HOUSTON — The mastermind behind one of many largest marriage fraud conspiracies in U.S. historical past was sentenced to 10 years in jail Oct. 27, within the Southern District of Texas, following an investigation by Homeland Safety Investigations (HSI) Houston, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Companies (USCIS) and Inside Income Service-Legal Investigation (IRS-CI).
Ashley Yen Nguyen, 58, was additionally ordered to serve three years of supervised launch and pay $334,605 in fines. Nguyen pleaded responsible to the fees Nov. 5, 2020. As a part of her plea, she admitted to conspiring to have interaction in marriage fraud, mail fraud, immigration fraud, cash laundering and making false statements in a tax return.
“For greater than 4 years, this particular person raked in tens of millions by working one of many largest marriage fraud conspiracies in U.S. historical past,” stated Particular Agent in Cost Mark Dawson, HSI Houston. “The sham marriages and improper immigration advantages that had been fraudulently secured underneath this legal conspiracy wasted numerous federal assets, delayed an unknown variety of authentic marriages between international nationals and U.S. residents, and threatened nationwide safety by enabling people to stay within the nation by way of deceit.”
“As specialists in investigating all kinds of monetary crimes, [IRS-CI] particular brokers labored with our regulation enforcement companions and the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace to place a cease to this legal community – not simply from committing tax fraud and cash laundering – however from additionally circumventing our nation’s immigration legal guidelines,” stated Particular Agent in Cost Ramsey E. Covington, IRS-CI Houston. “We leverage our capability to observe the cash path as a way to carry down legal conspiracies just like the one Nguyen led.”
Nguyen ran the wedding fraud scheme out of the Southwest Houston-area, however had associates working throughout Texas and in Vietnam. The group was liable for organizing properly over 500 sham marriages in trade for substantial quantities of cash solely for the alien beneficiary to acquire immigration advantages. The legal group was in a position to generate greater than $15 million in illicit proceeds from the scheme.
On the listening to, the courtroom heard that Vietnamese nationals would give Nguyen’s group $50,000 to $70,000 to marry a spouse or husband within the U.S. to fraudulently acquire lawful everlasting resident standing.
Nguyen issued routine funds of roughly $200 to these U.S. residents who acted as recruiters within the pretend immigration proceedings. Nguyen additionally promised the U.S. residents who participated as spouses between $15,000 and $20,000 in installments, though few ever got here near getting the total quantity.
Nguyen used properly over a dozen recruiters of U.S. citizen spouses within the Houston neighborhood and marketed through social media concerning the scheme in Vietnam. Most of the U.S. residents had intensive legal histories, gang associations and crippling drug additions.
Throughout her plea, Nguyen acknowledged the pretend spouses didn’t dwell collectively and didn’t intend to dwell collectively, opposite to paperwork and statements submitted to federal authorities. At her instruction, the spouses solely met briefly, instantly earlier than they obtained their marriage license or in no way. To arrange the pretend spouses for his or her interviews with immigration officers, Nguyen and her legal group supplied fabricated details to the pretend spouses to check and recite particulars to falsely set up the pair was dwelling collectively and conversant in one another’s day by day habits.
The courtroom dominated that Nguyen utilized mass-marketing to facilitate the scheme by promoting it by way of recruiters and Fb. Nguyen had additionally claimed to be an lawyer who had contacts inside USCIS to make the scheme seem authentic. Nguyen usually supplied a pretend wedding ceremony album to assist individuals acquire authorized everlasting resident standing.
Nguyen bought a number of residences with the legal proceeds. She used them as a part of the scheme to both gather, distribute the proceeds and/or stage a few of the rooms for the instances when authorities indicated they’d conduct a website inspection. The rooms had been setup to look as in the event that they belonged to the pretend spouses.
Nguyen herself additionally entered america by way of a sham marriage.
Nguyen will stay in custody pending switch to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be decided within the close to future.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam Laurence Goldman, Michael Day and Kate Suh are prosecuting the case.
HSI is the principal investigative arm of DHS, liable for investigating transnational crime and threats, particularly these legal organizations that exploit the worldwide infrastructure by way of which worldwide commerce, journey, and finance transfer. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 staff consists of greater than 6,800 particular brokers assigned to 225 cities all through america, and 93 abroad areas in 56 international locations. HSI’s worldwide presence represents DHS’s largest investigative regulation enforcement presence overseas and one of many largest worldwide footprints in U.S. regulation enforcement.
For extra information and knowledge on HSI’s efforts to aggressively examine doc and profit fraud in Southeast Texas observe us on Twitter @HSIHouston.