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ICE Uncovers Large-Scale Marriage Fraud Scheme

Nearly 100 Indicted, 50 In Custody

by Jason Hopkins – 5/13/2019

Authorities indicted 96 people and arrested 50 for a marriage fraud operation allegedly taking place in Vietnam and Houston.

A months-long Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) probe uncovered a criminal operation that enabled numerous foreign nationals to fraudulently obtain legal immigration status in the U.S., according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement press release Monday.

Under the alleged terms of conspiracy, immigrant beneficiaries would pay around $50,000 to $70,000 to get married and score permanent resident status. The marriages were complete shams, according to the April indictment.

The spouses typically met only briefly before they obtained their marriage licenses and did not live together after becoming a “married” couple. The criminal operation behind the marriages would go so far as to produce fake wedding albums and falsified tax, utility and employment information — all in an effort to convince USCIS to approve the forms.

“These arrests mark the culmination of a comprehensive yearlong multi-agency investigation into one of the largest alleged marriage fraud conspiracies ever documented in the Houston area,” Special HSI Agent in Charge Mark Dawson said in a Monday statement. “By working together with our partners from various federal law enforcement agencies, we have sent a resounding message that we are united in our effort to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that seek to circumvent U.S. law by fraudulent means.”

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