HSI Investigators Expose Six Conspiracies for Job, College Theft

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents gather before serving a employment audit notice at a 7-Eleven convenience store Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
AP Photo/Chris Carlson
NEIL MUNRO

Homeland Security Investigators (HSI) are exposing numerous cases of fraud as a wave of foreigners tries to sneak into Americans’ middle-class colleges and white-collar jobs.

The latest example of college theft came from California, where HSI investigators at the Department of Homeland Security helped detect an alleged cheating ring organized by two Chinese immigrants.

The two Chinese allegedly hired Chinese-Americans to take English-language tests on behalf of Chinese clients for $400 per test. The test opened the doors for the Chinese students to get Americans’ college slots, then F-1 student visas and job permits via two work-permit programs, dubbed Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

In 2017, roughly 400,000 young foreigners got white-collar jobs under the CPT and OPT programs, so pushing hundreds of thousands of American graduates out of good starter jobs.

The California language-fraud was discovered following an investigation into another fraud ring operating in Boston, said Joseph Macias, Special Agent in Charge for HSI Los Angeles. “That is where it originated from, and we found ties … that led to Los Angeles,” he told Breitbart News. 

The fraud rings start within ethnic groups and then recruit local experts, said Jennifer Reyes, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, Los Angeles. In the California case, she said, the group consisted of two Chinese and three Americans, and sought to “springboard off of the F-1 [visa] and get into the work atmosphere here in the U.S.”

Media reports also say that foreign students fake their educational records and cheat in routine academic tests so they can enroll in U.S. universities and then get work permits. The fraud pushes young Americans out of American universities and out of American jobs. In May 2016, Reuters reported:

Today, the University of Iowa, one of the largest state universities in the American Midwest, says it is investigating at least 30 students suspected of cheating. Three sources familiar with the inquiry say the number under investigation may be two or three times higher.

University spokespeople declined to name the students or comment on their nationality, citing academic privacy laws.

But those familiar with the investigation said that most, perhaps all, of the cheating suspects are Chinese nationals. They stand accused of cheating in online versions of at least three courses, including law and economics. Three of the Chinese suspects admitted to Reuters that they hired Chinese-run outfits to take exams for them

The college theft and job theft also allow corporate spying and the theft of intellectual property. For example, HSI agents participated in a case where Chinese students in California were participating in university research and then stealing the Americans’ research by sending it to China, a DHS official said. “The students were taking the information and sending it back home.”

The fraud is a threat to national security, said Macias. “Once they get in, we have a harder time tracking them down and finding out what they are doing,” he said, adding that several of the 9/11 murdered arrived as students. That is “the deep dive of the problem,” he said. 

The fraud is made easier because foreigners who arrive legally can cheaply buy a new set of fake identification cards and work permits, Reyes said. The usual “three pack” costs roughly $400 and it includes a fake Social Security card, a fake Driver’s License, and a fake Employment Authorization Document.

But the HSI investigations are greatly helped when Americans and legal immigrants provide tips, Reyes said. Especially when the media publicizes arrests, “we always get additional calls,” she said.

In the California case, said the DHS official, the first five arrests are “just the first phase of our investigation — who knows where it is going here?”

“I’d love to have another 150 agents in L.A.,” said Macias. “More bodies are always a help … [because] there is a lot we need to deal with,” including gangs, drugs, and child exploitation, he said. “We work hard with what we have.”

In 2018, HSI investigators uncovered a scheme where Mexican aircraft mechanics — who were imported via the H-2B or TN visa programs — paid a company manager to help them get green cards:

Eleno Quinteros, Jr., the former vice president of operations for two airline mechanic staffing companies, was sentenced in federal court Thursday to 12 months in prison for making false statements in support of legal permanent resident petitions for dozens of the companies’ mechanics.

Quinteros, 46, of Chula Vista, Calif. previously admitted falsely certifying that he had received no payments from the mechanics, when in fact he had demanded and collected hundreds of thousands of dollars of unlawful fees from approximately 85 of them. 

Quinteros was vice president of two different staffing companies, whose workers performed heavy maintenance on aircraft at a variety of airfields nationwide.  He was responsible for recruiting Mexican aircraft mechanics to work in the United States for the companies, and for helping recruits to obtain work visas such as TN or H-2B visas. 

According to the indictment, after assisting his recruits in obtaining work visas to come to the U.S., Quinteros agreed to help at least 85 of them pursue legal permanent residency in exchange for substantial fees. Quinteros directed many employees to deposit money into his wife’s bank account, or provide him with blank money orders, in order to conceal the source of the unlawful funds. Other funds were routed through a company bank account, where Quinteros falsely described them to the company bookkeeper as a “loan” from him to the company.

In 2018, three Koreans were sentenced following HSI’s exposure of their fake schools which had provided Koreans with documents they needed to get student visas:

LOS ANGELES – The owner of four schools that enrolled hundreds of foreign nationals who fraudulently obtained immigration documents allowing them to remain in the United States as “students” – even though they rarely, if ever, attended classes – was sentenced today to 15 months in federal prison and ordered to forfeit more than $450,000.

The investigation in this case began in 2011 after a compliance team with HSI’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program, made an unannounced site visit to Prodee University’s main campus on Wilshire Boulevard. During the visit, the team observed only one English language class with three students in attendance, even though records indicated nearly 1,000 foreign students were enrolled at Prodee’s two campuses. That same day, an unannounced visit to ACFS found only one religion class in session with a single student present, even though the school had more than 300 foreign students in active status.

In 2016, HSI investigators gathered the data which sent three Indian labor-brokers to jail:

Sunitha Guntipally, 43, of Fremont; her husband, Venkat Guntipally, 47, of Fremont; Pratap “Bob” Kondamoori, 54, of Incline Village, Nevada; and his sister, Sandhya Ramireddi, 56, of Pleasanton, were named in a 33-count indictment filed Thursday charging them with conspiracy to commit visa fraud, use of false documents, mail fraud, and other offenses. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonas Lerman aided by Nina Burney. 

The four defendants allegedly used three California corporations to orchestrate the submission of more than 100 fraudulent H-1B visa applications. According to the indictment, Venkat and Sunitha Guntipally founded and owned two employment-staffing companies for technology firms, DS Soft Tech and Equinett. Venkat Guntipally served as the president of both companies, and Sunitha Guntipally was vice president. The indictment further alleges Kondamoori is the founder and owner of SISL Networks, and his sister Ramireddi allegedly worked as the human resources and operations manager for all three firms.    

In 2015, HSI investigators helped win a one-year jail sentence for the founder of a fake university which trafficked Indian and Chinese students into software jobs:

The former chief executive officer (CEO) of Herguan University in Sunnyvale has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for his role in a student visa fraud scheme uncovered by the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF) spearheaded by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

In April, [Jerry] Wang pleaded guilty to submitting false documents to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). As part of his plea, he also admitted participating in the scheme to commit visa fraud involving more than 100 immigration-related documents known as “Forms I-20,” as well as aiding and abetting the unauthorized access of a DHS computer database. 

In 2014, HSI investigators broke up a ring which smuggled Filipino healthcare workers into U.S. jobs:

Lilia Tabafunda, 58, owner of People’s Resources International Services in the Wilshire Center district of Los Angeles, was sentenced to 24 months in prison for making erroneous statements on an employment visa petition for an alien she claimed was going to work for a local respiratory hospital.

Court documents in the case allege that for nearly a decade Tabafunda used the names of nonexistent companies and non-profit organizations in fraudulent employment-based, non-immigrant visa petitions submitted to USCIS and DOL. According to the indictment, which was handed down in November 2012, Tabafunda falsely claimed her clients were being sought for positions by prominent organizations, including City of Hope, Barlow Respiratory Hospital in Los Angeles and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Among the jobs listed on the fraudulent employment visa petitions were budget analysts, clinical research specialists and “health educators.”

….

According to court documents, Tabafunda charged her clients anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 to file visa petitions on their behalf. Most of Tabafunda’s clients were Philippine nationals who originally entered the United States on tourist visas. 

The extensive fraud is largely being ignored by Congress, even as it pushes for greater use of foreign workers instead of Americans. For example, North Dakota’s GOP Sen. Kevin Cramer, Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee, and Colorado GOP Rep. Ken Buck, are pushing a pair of bills — H.R. 1044 and S. 386 — that would fast-track Indian and Chinese OPT students into green cards and citizenship.

Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after high school or university. The federal government then imports roughly 1.1 million legal immigrants, refreshes a resident population of at least 1.5 million white-collar guest workers and roughly 500,000 blue-collar visa workers, and it also tolerates about eight million illegal workers.

In 2019, because of catch-and-release rules mandated by Congress and the courts, the federal government also will likely release at least 350,000 Central American laborers into the U.S. job market, even as at least 500,000 more migrants sneak past U.S. border defenses or overstay their visas.

This federal policy of using legal and illegal migration to boost economic growth for investors works because it shifts enormous wealth from young Americans towards older investors by flooding the market with cheap white-collar graduates and blue-collar foreign labor.

This cheap labor economic policy forces Americans to compete even for low wage jobs, it widens wealth gaps, reduces high tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts kids’ schools and college education, pushes Americans away from high-tech careers, and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions.

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