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Immigration fraud is not a pleasant topic.
Far too many immigrants, seeking the American Dream, get trapped in the web of immigrant fraud.
The majority are hard-working individuals, whose dreams, shattered by con artists, are transformed into nightmares. Of course, some are not innocent.
Often times, the tales involved a key government player on the inside, or an immigration expert on the outside, trying to rig the system.
This notebook chronicles these stories.
It also shares what you need to know about immigration fraud to keep from stepping into one of these traps.
Student Visa Fraud Uncovered At Fake University
Upon hearing the news of a fake university being used to capture phony applications for immigrant students, one word came to mind.
It’s incredibly difficult for immigrants, doing things the right way, to earn green card status.
Immigration fraud, however, is wrong – no matter how you slice the pieces.
Many are ripped off by scammers, often connected to inside government employees, but not always. And sometimes the immigrants, themselves play a knowing role in the scheme.
These situations harm all immigrants, heightening suspicion of all who seek benefits.
But the idea of setting up a fake university, and allowing school officials, student recruiters, and students to try to game the system is almost surreal.
Five Things You Need To Know About The Fake University Set Up By U.S. Federal Agents
Shirin Jaafari, Public Radio International, April 7, 2016
To an outsider, the University of Northern New Jersey looked like a respectable college. It had a professional website with details about tuition costs, admissions, graduate and undergraduate courses.
There was even a real building associated with it. It was in Cranford, about 15 miles outside New York City.
But the school was a fake, set up by US federal agents to uncover a visa fraud scam.
This type of news gives immigration reform a black eye, at a point in time when reformers are already reeling from attacks from right-wing politicians running for president.
Nor does the news that the bulk of the culprits were of Chinese and Indian origin help innocent immigrants from those two nations, two of the largest incoming immigrant communities in the United States.
A New Spin On Immigration Marriage Fraud
This is a relatively new spin on immigration fraud via a fake marriage.
It starts a near fairy tale. A Dominican Republican immigrant, Gabriela Rosa, becomes a U.S. citizen, then wins election to the New York State Assembly.
It ends as an immigration nightmare. She pleads guilty to two counts of fraud and faces long term prison time for her felonies.
Lawmaker In Manhattan Pleads Guilty To Two Felonies
Prosecutors said that around 1996, Ms. Rosa, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, paid a United States citizen about $8,000 to enter into “a sham marriage” while she was in a relationship with a man she would later marry; she ended the sham marriage a few years later. In subsequent submissions to the immigration authorities, she falsely represented that her marriage had been bona fide, the government said.
It is unknown whether Rosa’s shenanigans were uncovered as part of a routine corruption investigation or, as often happens in politics, she stepped on the wrong toes on her way up the ladder.
“This is my American dream,” Rosa told The Daily News after winning the Democratic primary in 2012.
It was her American dream.
Immigration Fraud Claims Rise As Reform Nears
Every time talk of new immigration programs moves closer to realities, various camps move into battle position.
The government, of course, sets forth internal regulations. Attorneys gear up advertising campaigns. Non-profit groups prepare for training volunteers and writing grant proposals.
Immigration fraud artists, too, plot their marketing efforts. They know many immigrant families, who have long resided in America’s social shadows, are clueless about bona fide and spurious benefit applications.
As San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón notes, there has been a recent uptick in the number of immigration fraud complaints.
The Scammers Preying On Vulnerable Undocumented Immigrants
“The conversation in the street is that there is more activity [around fraud],” Gascón said. He added the activity correlates to an increase in talk about the possibility of immigration reform. Scam artists, he says, advertise their services whenever talk of immigration reform hits the news.
Some immigrants just lose time and money.
Others lose their entire chance to ever live here legally.
A Latin America Rip-Off Scheme: Faking Cuban Citizenship
This story disappoints, indeed depresses, me.
For years, I have defended Cuban immigrants under the Cuban Adjustment Act. In fact, I’ve written about how it seems many California attorneys and even some immigration judges are clueless are the 1996 Act.
The Act is coming to an end. As Cuba – United States relations start to thaw, the basis for the CAA is eroding. Actually, the end should have taken place long ago.
Fake Cubans Hoping For Fast Track To Citizenship Now Under Scrutiny
Repeating Islands, Lisa Paravisini, August 3, 2013
According to USCIS, Latin American immigrants have been part of a ring, involving 40 arrests, pretending to be Cuban immigrants seeking asylum-style protection.
The scam starts with the purchase of a Cuban birth certificate for between $10,000 and $20,000.
Since birth certificates are not yet computerized in Cuba, they’re easy targets for fraud. They’re torn from a book and the information is filled out by hand before being logged into a register.
The documents that they are presenting in some cases are actual Cuban birth certificates which are smuggled into the country blank, and then filled in with fictitious information.
And while the documents are easily falsified, the benefits they can bring are real.
“There’s little doubt that Cubans are treated better than any other group,” said Cheryl Little, executive director of Americans for Immigrant Justice. “And that’s been the case for decades.”
Since the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, Cubans automatically gain refugee status upon arriving in the country and are put on a fast track to naturalization.
The minute Cubans set foot on U.S. soil they don’t need to worry about being deported, unlike migrants or even asylum-seekers from other countries. They receive a green card after being in the United States for a year and a day — a much shorter time than faced by other legal immigrants.
I’ve long been torn on the issue of the Cuban Adjustment Act.
On the one hand, why should one country in Latin America be given such a privileged path to legalization?
On the other, was Castro that bad of a leader for his country, and did the U.S. overstep its role in Latin American politics back during the 1950s and 1960s?
Third, shouldn’t other Latin American nations be allowed similar programs reflecting their relations with the U.S.?
But this article points something else out. If there is any opening, immigration fraud scammers will try to rip-off innocent immigrants.
Perhaps the moral to the story is quite simple.
If you cannot count on your ethnic comrades for support on immigration issues, who can you count on?
The Internet: An Emerging New Type Of Immigration Fraud
It seems like the schemes for immigration fraud never end.
I thought, when I wrote, How To Recognize And Avoid Immigration Fraud (Before You Become A Victim), I had seen every type of scam imaginable.
However, the rise of the internet has led to a new type of rip-off artist. Now, internet scammers are pretending to look legitimate online. Like offline crooks, they have no intentions of really helping immigrants and their families.
7 Ways To Spot Online Immigration Fraud
VISANOW Global Immigration, Laura Hayes, July 16, 2013
This article outlines seven signs of online immigration fraud.
The online immigration assistant, notario, or attorney:
The first two actions listed in this insightful article should be enough warning to tip-off immigrants. If anyone claims to be associated with the government, or anyone asks for money to download government forms, it should be easy to verify their credentials.
Unfortunately, for some immigrants, less sophisticated, this could be a problem.
Yet, there is a possible work-around.
How did the less sophisticated immigrant find the company on the internet anyway? Most likely, they had some help from a family member or relative, or they would not be looking for assistance on the web. Ask the same person for help in figuring out if the services offered are real or fraudulent.
I handle cases online. Many of my clients do not live in the United States. Based on my experiences, here is a clue to keep you from being victimized: request a telephonic or Skype consultation. During that consultation, you’ll get a much better feel if the person talking to do is a legitimate attorney or a scam artist.
The real problem with these scams is often the immigrant’s motivation. Seeking the lowest price services sometimes leads one to discover that you get what you pay for.
Low cost providers are often low priced because they offer low value, indeed no value, for the price.
Fact Or Fiction: Large Scale Chinese Immigrant Asylum Fraud?
Immigration fraud occurs at various levels, and takes place in different sizes. This report pertains to a potentially huge scam operation.
Given the scale of this operation, if the charges are upheld in court, immigrant rights advocates will be assessed a dark, deep black eye in the arena of public opinion, as the scope of this alleged operation becomes media talk show fodder for immigration reform opponents.
26 Charged In Chinese Immigration Fraud
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation press release:
There is already a great deal of government skepticism about asylum claims filed by Chinese immigrants, especially in cities like New York with large Chinese communities. This action is not likely to make things easier for legitimate applications for protection against persecution in their homeland.
“Operation Knot So Fast” Breaks Immigrant Marriage Scam Ring
Many instances of immigration fraud, as I noted in The Immigration Fraud Blame Game, is stirred by the scammers. They know that they can often make an easy buck off immigrants who should, but do not always, know better.
Daytona Man, Others Charged With Marriage Fraud
A Daytona Beach man is charged with marriage fraud after a New York woman recruited him to participate in a conspiracy for people who are illegally in the country to get citizenship by marrying United States citizens.
Thirteen of the suspects, including Aksu, charged in “Operation Knot So Fast” are from Florida, according to the Department of Justice.
Desperation to live in the United States gets the best of immigrants, and they go along with the plans set forth by the con artists.
Ultimately, many of these fraud rings are uncovered by legal authorities. Both the scammed and scammers are then forced to pay a heavy price.
Worse, in my view, is these incidents cast a negative blemish on the many immigrants seeking to earn residency according to the law – allowing zealous anti-immigration groups another opportunity to condemn the entire immigration process.
Related Articles And Posts
Here are some more links to internet news about immigration fraud, published the last few months.
If you think we’ve missed out on anything important, please let us know in the comments.
Same-Sex “Mariage” And Immigration Fraud
Laura Wood, The Thinking Housewife, August 5, 2013
Consumer Groups On The Lookout For Immigration Scams
Code Switch, Hansi Lo Wang, July 31, 2013
USCIS Wants To Train Its Interviewers To Spot Applicants Who Are Lying
Government Security News, Jacob Goodwin, July 29, 2013
The Latest Immigration Scam: Paying To Be Put On A List For Reform
KPCC, Leslie Berestein Rojas, July 24, 2013
Immigration Officer Traded Citizenship For 200 Egg Rolls
New York Post, July 13, 2013
Montgomery County Alerts Residents to Immigration Fraud
MyMCMedia, You Tube, July 12, 2013
U.S. Seizes 14 7-Eleven Stores In Immigration Raids
The New York Times, Mosi Secret & William K. Rashbaum, June 17, 2013
ICE, CBP Officials Indicted In Immigration Fraud Scheme
losangeles.cbslocal.com May 8, 2013