Shortcut to Jail


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, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.