Disguises can be used to pull off a crime. For instance, if a criminal plans to rob a bank, it is highly unlikely that he or she is going to walk into the lobby without wearing a face mask. The goal is to cover any part of the body that may be recognizable by security cameras or law enforcement. An article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle details how the CEO of a Georgia-based English language school disguised immigration fraud by making foreign-born workers look like students. (The workers didn’t have to wear a mask, but they did have to masquerade as students.)
The story states that the CEO, who was also the owner of a Korean newspaper company in Atlanta, and a co-conspirator issued false immigration documents to illegal aliens they had brought into the United States. The 53-year-old CEO had approval from the Department of Homeland Security Student and Exchange Visitor Program to enroll foreign-born students at his English language school, where he had a bad habit of issuing I-20 forms with false financial information. (I-20 forms lead to student visas, which permit students to stay in the country while attending school.)
The Justice Department said the CEO accomplished the fraudulent scheme by conspiring with the owners of Korean bars to provide female workers with the understanding that the women would not attend classes. The CEO and another co-defendant, the former academic director, allegedly referred the students to yet a 54-year old co-defendant associated with a bar, to gain fake documents to submit with their student visa application. This criminal created fake passports, school transcripts, financial records and other documents required for the student visas. The former academic director allegedly charged the immigrants thousands of dollars in tuition to maintain their enrolled status within the school, while the school’s academic coordinator signed the I-20 forms certifying that the students were actively attending class. In reality, the students never attended class. (The story reports that approximately 100 students were enrolled with less than half actually attending.)
The CEO pleaded guilty to immigration document fraud and was sentenced to nearly two months in prison. The 54-year-old bar employee pleaded guilty to the same charge and received a one-year prison sentence. (That’s all they got?) They both received three years supervised release following their prison terms. The court also ordered the forfeiture of more than $36,000 that was seized from the school’s bank accounts.
These two criminals were after money for themselves instead of providing a legitimate educational experience for the students. It looks like these fraudsters have a few lessons to learn themselves, which will be taught while serving out their prison term in the school of “hard knocks”.