Soap Opera


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Soap operas are famous for making viewers expect the unexpected. Dead people come back to life, characters discover they have parented a child they did not know about and people are miraculously cured of mysterious illnesses. The twists are what keep viewers glued to the television and hooked on a plethora of crazy plot lines that are unrealistic. An article posted on tells about a father who had an interesting perception of love and went the distance (literally) for his son by marrying his foreign girlfriend so that she could gain U.S. citizenship. (Perhaps one of the daytime drama producers should consider the story as a subplot.)

The players in this dramatic case include a father, his son, the son’s girlfriend and another woman. (All four were born in the Philippines.) The father and the woman arrived on American soil on a temporary visa. The son and his girlfriend also arrived on a temporary visa, but one year later. Approximately nine months later, after the 62-year-old father became a U.S. citizen, he married his son’s 32-year-old girlfriend. And two years after that, the father paid the 64-year-old woman who entered the U.S. on a temporary visa several thousand dollars to marry his 35-year-old son. (I wonder if they all lived together, and if so, was it awkward?)

U.S. citizenship is highly coveted, so it’s easy to understand why the four fraudsters wanted that status. (Immigration law allows aliens who are married in the U.S. to receive priority status when it comes to receiving immigration benefits. There’s a legal process for this, but these four circumvented those requirements.) The son’s girlfriend eventually obtained citizenship about four years after marrying her boyfriend’s father. But, the whole scam was busted after the son and the other woman made false statements about their marriage arrangement to authorities and through interviews with immigration officials.

The son and the woman pleaded guilty to marriage fraud and will each face up to five years in prison. The father pleaded guilty to immigration document fraud and the son’s girlfriend pleaded guilty to gaining U.S. citizenship by fraud. They both face up to 10 years in prison.

While this situation is more interesting than just about any soap opera you could possibly watch on television, it’s hard to believe that these folks actually expected to get away with their ruse. This storyline definitely took an awkward wrong turn with the two marriages, but the American justice system set these perpetrators straight and gave the drama a more realistic ending. The moral of the story is that if you commit immigration fraud, you will be denied the rights and benefits of a legal U.S. citizen.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”4 Jacksonville Residents Born in Philippines Plead Guilty to Immigration Fraud Offenses,” written by Dawn Brooks and posted on on August 27, 2015.

According to the Department of Justice, Peter Barlaan and Winnie Rabaya Barlaan, who are naturalized U.S. citizens, arrived to the United States in November 2007 on a temporary visitor’s visa. Peter Barlaan’s son and his son’s girlfriend, Mark Barlaan and Mary Barlaan, followed behind them with the same visa in December 2008.

The DOJ said on Sept. 9, 2009, when Peter Barlaan became a U.S. citizen, he married Mary Barlaan, his son’s girlfriend.

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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.