Recent Fraud Investigations Led to Convictions, USCIS Announced
This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Laura Danielson is an active member.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) assisted in several recent investigations leading to convictions in immigration fraud cases.
In one case, USCIS assisted in an investigation that led to a federal jury finding Jason Shiao guilty in a marriage fraud scheme. Mr. Shiao, of Santa Fe Springs, California, posed as an attorney in an elaborate scheme in which at least 87 foreign nationals, mostly Chinese citizens, paid up to $50,000 to enter into sham marriages.
As part of the scheme, according to USCIS, Mr. Shiao falsely claimed to be an attorney, paid U.S. citizens up to $15,000 to participate in the scheme, introduced would-be immigrants seeking benefits to U.S. citizens to facilitate the sham marriages, instructed his clients to pose for wedding photographs, and told clients to lie to USCIS officials. The defendants went to considerable lengths to make the fake marriages appear real, USCIS said. Mr. Shiao and his daughter prepared documentation that was filed with USCIS to bolster the validity of the fraudulent marriages, including staged photographs of "wedding ceremonies" and bogus tax returns, life insurance policies, joint bank account information and apartment lease applications.
Mr. Shiao was sentenced to two years in prison. Mr. Shiao's daughter was sentenced to six months in prison. A third defendant was transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where he is also being prosecuted for drug trafficking charges based on crimes allegedly committed while on pre-trial release in the immigration fraud case.
In another case, USCIS assisted in an investigation that led to sentencing of Rosa Cingari to 12 years and seven months in federal prison and Domenico Cingari to eight years and one month in federal prison for conspiracy, making false statements in immigration applications and petitions, and mail fraud. The court also ordered the Cingaris to forfeit real property that was used to facilitate the offenses. As part of their sentence, the court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $740,880, the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.
According to evidence presented at trial, the Cingaris owned and operated R.E.P.C. Accounting and Translations out of their home on West Park Street in Lakeland, Florida. They assisted undocumented people in obtaining Florida driver's licenses by filing fraudulent immigration documents. Specifically, they filed Forms I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal; I-130, Petition for Alien Relative; and I-765, Work Authorization. Most of the applications and petitions submitted to USCIS by the Cingaris contained materially false information, USCIS said. The Cingaris filed the fraudulent immigration documents to obtain USCIS I-797C Notices of Action. The Cingaris put their mailing address on all of the fraudulent forms so that USCIS would mail the Notices of Action to their business. They then sold the Notices of Action to their clients. The Cingaris charged their clients between $500 and $1,300 each for the fraudulent immigration applications.