Crazy Immigration Scam Uncovered in Los Angeles

April 5, 2015 8:34 am
by David Jakeman

The school was said to be educating over 900 students. It was a college that was supposed to have two Koreatown-area locations for students to learn and gain important skills in integrating into the U.S. work force. There was just one problem. It wasn’t real. It was nothing more than a front for an immigration scheme that allowed students to pay the college to pretend like they were students so they could stay in the United States.

Shocking Fraud

Usually immigration fraud seems to happen on a small level. It is rare that something this large operates so openly and brazenly. Four schools in the area are possibly implicated in the scam. What tipped investigators off was the fact that very few students appeared to actually be in the classes at the American College of Forensic Studies. A class like Business Law only had three students show up for class. U.S. Government was the same; it had around three students. Another school, Prodee University was not that different. Introduction to Politics was a course that was taught, and usually no students actually showed up.

The colleges amounted to what federal investigators are calling a “pay to stay” immigration scheme. Students paid “tuition’ of about $1,800 every six months. This in turn gave the students the necessary documents and visas to live in the United States. Los Angeles immigration attorneys would be surprised to know that many of the students didn’t even live in California. Some were living as far away as Hawaii or Texas.

For-Profit Universities

The two colleges were for-profit colleges. These type of education providers have increasingly come under fire for questionable business practices. This immigration scheme will do little to change that perception. The owner of the schools was arrested in the federal investigation. He lived in a spacious mansion in Beverly Hills funded by his immigration scheme.
One major concern federal investigators have with this type of immigration fraud is that it allows immigrants who could pose a risk to the United States into the country without as stringent of background checks. It also allows immigrants to live throughout the United States without any real tracking of their physical location.1

The fact that such a scheme could exist for so long shows that there are real challenges with enforcing immigration laws. It also shows the real need for comprehensive immigration reform. It’s crazy that such a shocking immigration scheme was perpetuated and that it took so long to figure it out. Immigration attorneys are used to seeing strange things, but this definitely has to be one of the weirdest in a while. That two colleges could play this out on such a large scale shows that many will try to game the immigration system. If you have immigration questions, or feel like you might be working with something that seems a bit shady, it’s best to contact a trusted immigration attorney. And you should avoid large schools that don’t have any students showing up to class.

1 http://www.latimes.com/local/crime/la-me-school-immigrants-fraud-20150312-story.html