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Los Angeles men accused of running ‘pay-to-stay’ visa scam



Los Angeles men accused of running ‘pay-to-stay’ visa scam

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 March, 2015, 11:23pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 March, 2015, 11:24pm

Reuters in Los Angeles


U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations agents raid a classroom at the Prodee University, Neo America Language School installations in Los Angeles on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. Three people were arrested on charges of running four sham vocational schools in Southern California that issued fraudulent paperwork enabling foreigners to stay in the country. Photo: AP

Three Los Angeles men who prosecutors say ran a "pay-to-stay" scheme where hundreds of foreigners were charged to use their schools to obtain US student visas have been arrested in a federal grand jury indictment.

According to the indictment issued on Wednesday, the defendants, who operated four Southern California schools, are accused of taking in as much as US$6 million in phony "tuition" payments from the foreign nationals and creating false student records and transcripts to fool immigration authorities.

Unannounced visits by federal agents to a language school owned and managed by defendant Hee Sun Shim, 51, found only three students there, prosecutors said. Only one student was found at his religion school.

"Immigration fraud schemes potentially compromise national security and cheat foreign nationals who play by the rules," Acting US Attorney Stephanie Yonekura said in a statement.

Prosecutors say Shim and his co-defendants, Hyung Chan Moon, 39, and Eun Young Choi, 35, issued immigration documents certifying that a foreign nationals had been accepted and would be a full-time students.

Shim is also accused of transferring "students" from one school to another to avoid arousing the suspicion of immigration authorities. Agents identified dozens of foreign nationals, mostly from South Korea and China, who obtained transfers.

All three were charged in the US District Court indictment with conspiring to commit immigration fraud and use or possession of an immigration document procured by fraud.