The work of USCIS, along with federal investigators, has halted a large immigration fraud ring in Florida, with the two ringleaders recently being sentenced to 21 months in federal prison, USCIS officials have announced.
In addition to having to serve nearly two years in prison, the ringleaders have also been stripped of their U.S. citizenship and have had their naturalization certificates canceled. More than 25 others who participated in this fraud operation have also been sentenced for their crimes, with many being turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for immediate removal processing.
Background on the Immigration Fraud Ring
As federal investigators have found, the immigration fraud ring being operated out of the Southern District of Florida involved setting up fake marriages to get foreign-born nationals U.S. citizenship.
As court documents elucidate, the scheme was operated from May 2011 through February 2014 and involved:
- Arranging fraudulent marriages for immigrants for some fee
- Notarizing the fake marriage licenses
- Filling out and submitting the citizenship paperwork to USCIS on behalf of the immigrants
- Preparing all parties for the interview process.
In this case, the ringleaders were also discovered to have fraudulently obtained their own citizenship statuses.
Initial suspicions of this fraud ring came to light when a USCIS officer noticed some questionable green card applications passing through his office and alerted the Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) Directorate about them.
Commenting on this investigation, case and outcome, Linda Swacina, Director for the USCIS Miami District, has stated:
USCIS has no tolerance for immigration fraud… Anyone tempted to take advantage of America’s hospitality needs to understand that USCIS is committed to ensuring the integrity of our nation’s immigration system, and along with our law enforcement partners, will prosecute those committing fraud to the fullest extent of the law.
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