You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. Today’s fraudsters – a husband and wife from Corona, California – would probably prefer to erase their family ties to a terrorist couple who shot 14 people to death in San Bernardino back in 2015, but they also made some bad choices, putting their family back in the spotlight over immigration fraud.
The brother of the man responsible for the San Bernardino terrorist attack and his wife are the focus of today’s fraud article. Together, they conspired to fake a marriage between the wife’s sister, who was a Russian citizen, and a man from Riverside, California. (The sister-in-law overstayed her visa and was looking for a way to extend her visit, so she married a family friend of her brother-in-law.)
The prospective groom, who grew up beside the home where the two brothers lived in Riverside, happened to be the guy who bought two rifles used in the terrorist attack at Riverside’s Inland Regional Center, which served individuals with developmental disabilities. Additional research shows that the groom received $200 a month for marrying the Russian woman, who only did so to gain legal status in the U.S. (The Russian bride lied to federal agents during interviews, stating that she lived with the groom. She actually lived in Ontario, California with the father of her child.)
Perhaps investigators caught on to the sham marriage after spotting some interesting photos posted by the Russian woman on social media channels. About a year before the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, she posted photos of herself with another man, who happened to be the father of her child, even though she claimed to be married to her brother-in-law’s childhood friend at the time. Shortly after learning that immigration officials were going to interview the happy couple, the four co-conspirators panicked. (To cover up the scam, the brother-in-law created a bogus lease agreement that erroneously showed that the Russian woman and her “husband” lived in his home in Corona.) The Russian woman’s brother-in-law and sister kept the lie going until 24 hours after the deadly terrorist attack.
The couple pleaded guilty to immigration fraud and were scheduled for sentencing this past March; however, the husband violated his terms of release by intentionally overdosing on prescription medication. (Apparently, he took a hefty dose of his psychotropic medication and landed in the hospital for a mental evaluation.) His sentencing was them moved to late September, when he will face a maximum of five years in federal prison. His wife’s sentencing for her part in the immigration fraud scam is scheduled to take place in October.
The Russian bride also pleaded guilty to immigration fraud. Under a plea agreement, she is facing up to 20 years in prison and $1 million in fines. Her fake husband pleaded guilty to immigration fraud and providing material support to terrorists, admitting that he conspired with the San Bernardino terrorists over two years. (Authorities confirm that he never knew of the terrorist plot, though.)
Interestingly enough, the California man who set up his sister-in-law with his childhood friend, previously served in the U.S. Navy for four years and received medals for service in the “Global War on Terrorism.” (He must have forgotten the oath he took to serve his country when he decided to commit immigration fraud.) While none of the conspirators in the marriage fraud case were charged with any crimes directly related to the San Bernardino shooting, their family bond will now be forever associated with a legacy of crime.
Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Brother of San Bernardino terrorist overdoses, could be headed back to custody,” published by The Sun on April 27, 2018.
Federal authorities are seeking to return Syed Raheel Farook to custody in his immigration-fraud case, claiming that the brother of the man responsible for the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack violated the terms of his release by intentionally overdosing.
Farook was released April 28, 2016, after pleading not guilty to charges that stemmed from allegations that he, his wife Tatiana, Tatiana’s sister Mariya Chernykh and Enrique Marquez Jr. conspired to fake a marriage between Chernykh and Marquez so Cherynkh, a Russian citizen, could remain in the United States.