When people migrate to this country, they are often under duress, are scared and would do anything to keep their families together. Three people in California now face serious criminal charges after taking advantage of immigrants by charging high fees to arrange fraudulent marriages so that immigrants could gain permanent residency in the country.
Federal agents said a man and wife, both 56, and their 30-year-old daughter were arrested this morning and charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud, national news sources have reported.
According to authorities, the three people operated an immigration services company called MPEagle Consultants in California, through which they charged up to $60,000 for arranging fake marriages for 20 people who had come to the United States, mostly from India, on visas.
Apparently immigration office workers become suspicious after the same marriage witnesses and sometimes the same United States citizen spouse were being used on many green card applications. The workers reported 21 cases that appeared very similar to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which began an investigation that is still ongoing.
The investigation revealed that MPEagle Consultants was ultimately "recycling marriage certificates," said Orange County's head of ICE's homeland security investigations.
In documents filed in federal court, authorities accuse the three of hiring United States citizens who were poor and often homeless or addicted to drugs to pose as the spouse for many of the phony marriages. Often they would take photographs of the so-called couple in different outfits and locations to make the relationship look legitimate.
If these allegations are accurate, it is unfortunate that people would be willing to take advantage of others in vulnerable positions to make a profit illegally.
Be on the lookout for scams that promise citizenship. It is always best to go through the immigration process lawfully instead of risking everything by associating oneself with fraud.
Of yet, none of the people who allegedly participated in the scheme has been charged.
Source: Associated Press, "SoCal family charged with arranging fake marriages," 4/6/2011.