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Fraud Evangelism

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Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Churches are closing at rapid numbers in the United States as congregations dwindle across the country and a younger generation of Americans abandon Christianity altogether. What’s a minister to do to keep congregation numbers up? Well, if you are Reverend Joshua Shonubi, you increase the flock by arranging marriages for foreigners seeking U.S. citizenship. Shonubi took evangelism to a whole new level when he began uniting his chosen church members with immigrants willing to pay to stay. Marriage made in fraud.
Shonubi used his position as pastor to recruit economically downtrodden members of his church who were U.S. citizens to marry foreign nationals for financial compensation. He accepted money from the foreign nationals to facilitate these marriages, and then sponsored them for permanent resident in the U.S. He groomed the newlyweds appear like a couple and provided fictitious stories for the interviews with immigration authorities.

To back these petitions for citizenship, Shonubi submitted letters written on his church letterhead asserting under oath that he had performed and officiated the weddings himself. He also procured false rental leases, listing Jaypro, a corporation he formed in 2015, as landlord, to provide proof that the foreign national and U.S. citizen were living together. Which they weren’t. He also submitted fraudulent paystubs to support the façade that the marriage between the U.S. Citizen and the foreign national was legitimate. Who is going to question a minister? Between June 2008 and June 2021, Shonubi facilitated over 60 fraudulent marriages and submitted well over 100 fraudulent documents in support of his scheme.

Shout out to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in shutting the doors to Shonubi’s church.

Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “Former pastor in Bowie sentenced for conspiracy to commit visa, marriage fraud” published by WUSA News on April 18, 2024

A former Maryland pastor was sentenced on Thursday for his involvement in a scheme to marry off church members he recruited to foreign nationals in exchange for money. Joshua Shonubi, 59, of Bowie, is alleged to have facilitated 60 sham marriages and submitted over 100 fake documents to carry out his scheme.

He was sentenced to a 1.5 years in prison for federal charges of Conspiracy to Commit Visa and Marriage Fraud and a charge of Aggravated Identity Theft on Thursday. According to his guilty plea, Shonubi, who was a pastor at New Life City Church, used his position as pastor to get church members who were U.S. citizens to marry foreign nationals for financial compensation.

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