The age old adage “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” definitely applies to the case of a Sacramento man, who authorities arrested for allegedly trying to fleece hundreds of foreign nationals of exorbitant amounts of cash in exchange for false promises of U.S. citizenship.
According to federal authorities, the man allegedly ran a highly unusual fraud scheme that involved adopting adults in order to help them become U.S. citizens. He reportedly even turned his scam into a legitimate sounding enterprise that operated as a non-profit and was called the Americans Helping America Chamber of Commerce.
“Taking advantage of the hopes and dreams of undocumented immigrants, who are poorly positioned to seek the protection of law enforcement, to extract fees based on false promises, is a particularly predatory and manipulative type of fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner in a February 11, 2015 ABC News story.
As Wagner has pointed out, adult adoption cannot change the immigration status of an adult; it can, however, help undocumented immigrants under the age of 16 become U.S. citizens.
Background on the Immigration Fraud Scheme
Court documents reveal that the man, who was indicted for allegedly offering a false pathway to citizenship to people who were in the U.S. illegally, allegedly scammed victims in various states, including in California, Hawaii, New York, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. The fees he charged were reportedly as high as $10,000 (per case), and authorities believe he took in as much as $500,000 over the course of this fraud operation.
It is important to point out that, in the U.S., adult adoptions are legal and are often utilized in estate planning to confer parent-child status. This is most often done for an elderly person (the parent), who is either disabled or bedridden in exchange for some type of inheritance or financial arrangement. Using adoption to try to obtain naturalization for an adult in the U.S. is, however, illegal.
The man accused of running this immigration fraud scam has been charged with a number of offenses, including conspiracy and a dozen fraud charges, which could land him in federal prison for as long as 20 years (in the event of conviction).
Contact a Los Angeles Immigration Lawyer at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C.
If you are ready to get on the path to U.S. citizenship and you want to avoid scams that could cost you dearly, then it’s time to contact a trusted Los Angeles immigration attorney at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C.
To learn more about our citizenship, immigration and deportation defense services – and how we can help you, contact us today by calling (626) 684-3712 or (866) 227-5527 or by emailing us using the form at the upper right-hand side of the screen. From our office in Pasadena, we serve clients throughout the Los Angeles area, across the state of California and from around the world.