IT Reshoring News

April 10, 2019

Federal Agents Nab Foreign Work Permit Scammers with a Fake University

In late January, the country learned of a scam foreign workers use to stay in the U.S. illegally. Federal agents arrested eight recruiters and dozens of foreign workers participating in the scam…through a rather unusual sting operation.

How far will recruiters go to get foreign workers a job in the U.S.?  They'll commit fraud.  The workers, in turn, will fake attendance at a university to gain a student work permit.

600 such immigrants chose the wrong university though…a phony university set up by federal agents.

Feds Used Fake Michigan University in Immigration Sting – Detroit News

At the end of January, federal agents arrested eight recruiters and dozens of foreign workers all across the U.S. They all had one thing in common:  involvement with the University of Farmington in Farmington Hills, Michigan.  The foreign workers had signed up as students. The recruiters worked with the university to arrange the signups.

One problem though. The University of Farmington doesn't exist.

It's a fake entity, set up by federal agents to catch such illegal activities. Started in 2015, it collected information and monitored its targets for years. Agents from Homeland Security posed as university staff. ICE worked with the recruiters who contacted them, allowing them to incriminate themselves over and over.

How the Scam Works – Pay for College Courses, Stay in the U.S.

The 600 'students' took advantage of a certain federal program called “Curricular Practical Training,” or CPT. The CPT program provides a one-year work permit to foreign students enrolled in U.S. colleges. Federal data says 132,796 foreigners held CPT work permits in 2017.

The 600 foreign workers weren't interested in education and never attended a single class. They just wanted the work permit, which allowed them to stay in the U.S. under nonimmigrant status. The eight recruiters arrested made this happen by contacting the university and working out deals. Illegal deals.

It's a despicable scam. Worse, it deprives legitimate foreign students of an opportunity to learn and grow their skills in U.S. colleges.

Cracking Down on Illegal Immigration Visa Schemes

Using a fake university as a sting worked extremely well in this case. The sting had a physical address, a professional website, branding, a Facebook Page, and scripts for 'staff' working with the recruiters.

The article is well worth a read.

While we're thrilled to see the U.S. government cracking down on illegal immigration schemes, we have one concern. In this case, the scammers reached out to a university that doesn't exist to facilitate their scam.

How many other U.S. colleges have foreign 'students' on their own rolls, perpetuating the scam unknowingly (or even knowingly)?  How widespread is this CPT fraud?


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