Today in crimes we didn't know existed: a California family has been charged with defrauding immigrants by pretending to perform marriages that would grant them citizenship. Instead, the fraudsters conducted fake ceremonies, sometimes marrying multiple people to the same spouse.
According to the AP, Ajit and Nisha Bhargava and their daughter Runjhun are accused of charging immigrants up to $60,000 for fake marriages, which they brokered through their company MPEagle Consultants. They rounded up addicts and homeless people to serve as spouses, promising them $2,000 that they didn't always deliver. Then they took a few photos to prove that their clients had "relationships" with their spouses-to-be, and filed marriage certificates and green card applications. Authorities were tipped off when a whole bunch of certificates listed the same witness or even the same spouse. Says Joseph Macias of Immigration and Customs Enforcement,
They were just recycling marriage certificates. [...] It got to the point where they didn't care. They thought they were just kind of above the law.
The Bhargavas have been charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud — the people they fake-married have not been charged. And now we can all add "conning homeless people and immigrants into expensive fake green-card marriages" into our list of Crimes of the Modern Era.
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