French couple arrested in US immigration scam
A French couple has been charged and arrested for running an immigration scam that cheated more than 100 people of thousands of dollars.4 July 2008
LOS ANGELES - A French woman was arrested in California early Thursday on charges of running an immigration scam with her husband that netted thousands of dollars, US justice officials said.
Deborah Sion, 25, was detained without incident by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, one day after charges were filed against her and her husband, who is in custody in France in an unrelated fraud scheme.
Sion was due to appear in a Los Angeles court later Thursday.
Investigators say Sion and her husband, Isaac Peres, posted bogus adverts on Internet sites such as craigslist.com and franceservice.com offering positions for French employees at restaurants and casinos in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
The advertisements offered successful applicants assistance with acquiring legal status in the United States, charging between EUR 1,500 and EUR 2,700 for the fake immigration services.
More than 100 people were duped in the alleged scam. Several victims only discovered they had been conned when they went to the American consulate in Paris and were told that their green cards were fake.
Other victims were refused entry to the United States when immigration authorities determined their documents were false.
Sion and Peres face multiple charges including mail fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, and could face up to 57 years in prison if convicted.
"The defendants in this case preyed upon people seeking the American dream," said Thomas O'Brien, the United States Attorney in Los Angeles.
"This case is all the more egregious because their victims were primarily fellow French citizens."
Philippe Larrieu, the French Consul General in Los Angeles, urged victims who had not yet come forward to contact authorities, and said the arrests were the result of "remarkable co-operation" between US and French law enforcement.
[AFP / Expatica]