According to recent reports, a woman was indicted by a federal grand jury for taking part in a student visa pay-to-stay scam.
The woman, a New York City resident, was charged after authorities setup a fake institution with no classes or professors. She used her consulting business as a means of connecting with foreigners who needed to fraudulently obtain a work or student visa.
At this time, she is facing seven counts of visa fraud as well as one count of conspiracy. Along with 20 others, it is believed that she helped thousands of people obtain fake documents over the course of more than two years.
Undercover agents working for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement setup the fake institution, known as the University of Northern New Jersey. Despite the fact that the school had no programs, classes or professors, the professional appearance of its website attracted outsiders.
It is believed that the woman knew the university was fake, but had no clue she was being setup by authorities. This led her to pay the agents to create fake paperwork, showing that the students were enrolled in a legitimate university.
While the government feels that they have a strong case, the woman and her attorney continue to fight back. In fact, her attorney has made it clear that the charges are "bogus."
This type of white collar crime, although it doesn't cause physical harm, can lead to a serious punishment, including prison time. This is why it's important for anybody charged with such a crime to understand his or her legal rights.
Source: Asbury Park Press, "Woman used fake NJ university for visas," Associated Press, Aug. 30, 2016