Shortcut to Jail

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It’s ok to take a shortcut if you’re running behind on time and need to get to a destination quickly. It’s not ok to take a shortcut to circumvent U.S. immigration law. (Chances are if you disobey the government’s system for legal entry and citizenship, you’ll never get to where you wanted to go in the first place.) An article published by the Chicago Sun-Times tells about two unrelated cases of two Chicago-area residents who got in trouble for arranging sham marriages to help foreign nationals gain U.S. citizenship.

The story reveals that in the first case, a naturalized citizen from the Philippines who owned an immigration consulting business arranged at least 33 fraudulent marriages over a seven-year period of time. She charged her Filipino clients between $8,000 and $17,000 and paid their willing spouses, who were U.S. citizens, $5,000 each for taking part in the ruse.

The 62-year-old sham marriage arranger pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit marriage fraud and was sentenced to 36 months in prison. A co-conspirator received a one year prison sentence for his part in the scheme.

The second case involved a naturalized citizen from Nigeria, who allegedly arranged four sham marriages between Nigerian nationals and U.S. citizens, who were each paid between $1,000 and $3,000 for their part. The 36-year-old fraudster pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting visa fraud in regards to petitions filed in conjunction with the sham marriages and was sentenced to 3 months in prison.

Foreign nationals can lawfully become permanent residents as long as they are not marrying to bypass U.S. immigration laws. These two cases are perfect examples of what happens when fraudsters try to get around the law. Both shortcuts led straight to jail.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Two Sentenced to Prison for Arranging Sham Marriages,” written by Leeann Shelton and published by the Chicago Sun-Times on July 13, 2015.

Two Chicago-area residents were sentenced to federal prison Tuesday for arranging sham marriages that helped foreign nationals evade U.S. immigration laws.

Teresita Zarrabian, 62, was sentenced to 36 months in prison after she pleaded guilty in March to conspiring to commit marriage fraud, according to a statement from U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.