RSS

Tag Archives: Marriage fraud

Couple Convicted of Marriage Fraud

A Virginia Beach, Va., couple was convicted Monday, June 4, 2012, of conspiring to enter into marriages with American citizens for the purpose of obtaining permanent resident status in the United States.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Norfolk.

Danil Lyapin, 32, and Natallia Liapina, 54, are scheduled to be sentenced in September.

They each face five years in prison for conspiracy, five years for marriage fraud and five years for each false statement relating to naturalization and citizenship count.

“Marriage fraud poses a direct threat to the integrity of our immigration system and allows people to take advantage of benefits to which they are not entitled,” John P. Torres, special agent in charge of HSI Washington, D.C. “HSI will continue its efforts to identify and arrest individuals like Mr. Lyapin and Ms. Liapina, whose actions show a lack of regard for U.S. laws and undermine the legitimate immigration process.”

According to court records and evidence at trial, Danil Lyapin entered into a succession of three fraudulent marriages over the past decade to obtain lawful permanent residence status and eventual citizenship in the United States. Danil recruited his longtime business partner Armando to marry his mother so she could come to the United States, fraudulently obtain permanent residence, divorce Armando, re-marry Danil’s father and reunite the family in the United States.

Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Joseph DePadilla prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

Advertisements
 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Bulgarian Man Involved in Marriage Fraud Scam Has U.S. Citizenship Revoked

A Bulgarian man who fraudulently obtained U.S. citizenship in a marriage fraud scheme originating in South Carolina had that citizenship revoked by a federal judge in Georgia, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Krassimir Simeonov, 43, residing in Canada, was convicted of marriage fraud charges in November 2007 and served 15 months in federal prison. He and his co-conspirator wife, Mariana Simeonov, were the masterminds behind a marriage fraud scheme that started in 1997 and ended April 24, 2007 with their federal indictment in South Carolina. Following his conviction, ICE attorneys filed a petition in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, to revoke his fraudulently obtained citizenship. U.S. District Judge Horace T. Ward revoked Simeonov’s U.S. citizenship.

“Immigration benefit fraud schemes undermine the integrity of our nation’s legal immigration system, pose a security vulnerability and potentially rob deserving immigrants of benefits they rightfully deserve,” said Brock D. Nicholson, special agent in charge of HSI Atlanta. “The exploitation of our proud legal immigration tradition for profit is morally repugnant and HSI will move aggressively against those who engage in such criminal conduct.” Nicholson oversees HSI activities in Georgia and the Carolinas.

In 2005, HSI special agents initiated an investigation dubbed “Operation True Lies” into a marriage fraud scheme that involved South Carolina residents and Bulgarians living in Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, and Georgia.

As a result of the operation, 13 fake marriages were uncovered, the first of them dated about September 1997.

The couples falsely stated on legal documents that they were living together as husband and wife when they were not and had no intentions of doing so, according to the indictment. The fraudulent marriages allowed the Bulgarians to obtain rights and privileges that allowed them to stay in the country without having to apply for authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service.

The HSI investigation revealed that American citizens were paid $2,000 each to marry Bulgarians and to represent to immigration authorities that each marriage was a true relationship.

To date, 27 of the targets have been convicted and sentenced in the scheme.

 
 

Tags: , , , , ,

Former Immigration Attorney and Brother Sentenced for Marriage Fraud Scheme

A former immigration attorney and his twin brother were sentenced Wednesday, February 15, to federal prison for facilitating sham marriages that evaded immigration laws and enabled foreign nationals to illegally become U.S. citizens. The sentences resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Manny Aguja, 55, of Chicago and his twin brother Marc Aguja, also 55, were sentenced Feb. 15 by U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan. Manny Aguja, a former private immigration attorney in Chicago, was sentenced to 24 months and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. Marc Aguja, who also worked at his brother’s law office, was sentenced to 12 months and one day and must also pay a $10,000 fine. The brothers both pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud.

Last month the U.S. Department of Justice formally expelled Manny Aguja from practicing immigration law.

The Aguja brothers are two of 10 defendants convicted for their roles in a marriage fraud conspiracy that recruited U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, primarily Filipinos, to enter into 27 sham marriages to evade immigration laws. Last month Maria F. Cruz, a former Cook County traffic court employee, was the first defendant to be sentenced in the case, receiving 33 months in prison.

Between July 2003 and October 2009 Cruz arranged fraudulent marriages between U.S. citizens and foreign nationals. As part of the deception, she referred participants to Manny Aguja’s law office for the preparation of paperwork in support of the sham marriages. In addition to preparing fraudulent immigration papers, the Aguja brothers met with the participants and coached them on how to make the marriages appear legitimate to immigration authorities.

Foreign nationals who marry U.S. citizens legitimately may be eligible to become U.S. permanent residents, but not if the marriage was a sham solely to evade immigration laws.

“We will not tolerate such blatant exploitation and disregard for our nation’s immigration laws,” said Gary Hartwig, special agent-in-charge, HSI Chicago. “By circumventing these laws and taking illegal shortcuts to citizenship, the Aguja brothers used fraud and deceit to make a profit.”

HSI was assisted in the investigation by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s Fraud Detection and National Security program.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Yonan, Northern District of Illinois, prosecuted the case.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

Peruvian Nationals Busted for Marriage Fraud Scam

Two co-defendants in a Wood River Valley marriage fraud scheme entered guilty pleas Monday, February 6, 2012 in United States District Court in Boise, announced U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson.

Jenny Sedano-Vilcapoma, 30, of Ketchum,Idaho, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. Rudy Isla-Mejico, 36, of Bellevue,Idaho, pled guilty to marriage fraud. The two Peruvian nationals appeared before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge at the federal courthouse.

According to the plea agreement and her admissions in court, in October 2006, Sedano-Vilcapoma agreed to enter into a fraudulent marriage with a U.S. citizen for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits for herself. The scheme required that, in exchange for financial compensation, the citizen spouse would assist Sedano-Vilcapoma in obtaining lawful permanent resident status by filing forms and attending immigration interviews. On October 1, 2007, Sedano-Vilcapoma filed paperwork with the Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS).

Isla-Mejico admitted that in January 2007, he and Sedano-Vilcapoma met with two individuals in Blaine County, Idaho, for the purpose of recruiting one, a U.S. citizen, to enter into a fraudulent marriage with the other, a non-U.S. citizen, in order to obtain immigration benefits. According to the plea agreement, the two agreed to enter into a fraudulent marriage, on January 31, 2007, after which the citizen spouse was paid $2,000. On June 15, 2007, the parties signed and submitted forms to CIS in an attempt to obtain immigration benefits.

The charge of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, as charged in count one of the indictment, and marriage fraud, as charged in count two, are each punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release.

Sedano-Vilcapoma and Isla-Mejico are scheduled to be sentenced on April 30 at the federal courthouse inBoise.

“Our nation’s immigration laws are intended to provide benefits to individuals who meet certain criteria—not opportunists who manipulate the system for personal gain,” said Brad Bench, acting special agent in charge who oversees ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Idaho. “ICE will continue to investigate those involved in these types of criminal schemes.”

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS).

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

Three Sacramento Residents Indicted for Marriage Fraud Operation

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that a federal grand jury returned an indictment January 16, 2012 charging Sippy Lal, 58, Mamta Sharma, 34, and Rani Rachana Singh-Lal, 27, all of Sacramento, with conspiring to induce aliens to enter and reside in the United States in violation of law. The indictment alleges that the defendants were involved in an elaborate immigration fraud scheme involving foreign nationals from India who paid to enter into sham engagements or marriages with locally recruited U.S. citizens in an effort to legalize their immigration status.

Lal, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Fijian descent, was arrested on January 10, 2012, when agents executed a search warrant at his residence in Sacramento. He was released upon posting a $100,000 bond. Sharma, who is married to Lal and is of Indian descent, is not a legal resident of the United States. She was also arrested and remains in custody. An arrest warrant is being sought for Singh-Lal.

The citizens recruited by Lal were paid thousands of dollars to fly to India, meet and take pictures with a purported spouse, and sometimes enter into actual marriages (albeit often using fake names). Thereafter, fraudulent petitions were filed with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service in the United States seeking visas allowing the Indian citizens to enter and reside within the United States. On at least one occasion, after an alien entered on a fraudulent fiancé visa procured through the scheme, Lal paid a U.S. Citizen to further participate by entering into a sham marriage with the alien in Sacramento. Sharma is alleged to have used various aliases to pose as a United States Citizen in connection with five different petitions filed since 2008, despite the fact that she is not a U.S. citizen and despite the fact that she was married to Lal throughout that time period. Similarly, defendant Singh-Lal is alleged to have posed as the petitioner with respect to three different petitions, all filed with slight variations on her true name. According to the affidavit filed in the case, law enforcement has gathered evidence indicating that well over 50 fraudulent visa petitions are associated with Lal and his co-conspirators.

U.S. Attorney Wagner said: “This indictment describes a business model in which the defendants profited by enlisting U.S. citizens to engage in repeated acts of fraud aimed at facilitating the illegal entry of foreign nationals into the United States. The family visa provisions are intended to promote family unity and accommodate marriages involving foreign nationals. We cannot permit those provisions to be cynically abused for personal profit. As this indictment and others recently brought by this office attest, we are committed to prosecuting those — aliens and U.S. citizens alike — who try to profit from circumventing our immigration laws through fraud and deceit.”

“Hollywood may portray marriage fraud as a romantic farce, but this is a serious crime with serious implications,” said Dan Lane, assistant special agent in charge for ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Sacramento. “Immigration benefit fraud schemes undermine the integrity of our nation’s legal immigration system, pose a security vulnerability and potentially rob deserving immigrants of benefits they rightfully deserve. The exploitation of our proud legal immigration tradition for profit is morally repugnant and Homeland Security Investigations will move aggressively against those who engage in such criminal conduct.”

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services – Fraud Detection and National Security Unit, and the California Department of Justice – Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence. Assistant United States Attorneys Philip Ferrari and Michele Beckwith are prosecuting the case.

A separate prosecution was brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office six months ago involving an alleged marriage fraud ring similar to the one indicted today. Fourteen defendants were charged in that case, which involves alleged sham marriages arranged for profit between U.S. citizens and foreign nationals from Russia and Eastern Europe. To date, two defendants, Richard Vargas, 36, of Sacramento, and Olga Nekrasova, 26, of San Francisco, have pleaded guilty to felony charges in that case.

The maximum statutory penalty for conspiring to induce aliens to enter the United States is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sharma is also charged separately with aiding and abetting visa fraud, an offense which carries the same penalty. The actual sentences for all offenses will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,