A marriage agency in Los Angeles is accused of arranging hundreds of sham marriages so that their clients can obtain legal permanent residence or green cards.
The eleven accused persons charged each foreign client between $20,000 and $30,000 for procedures to circumvent immigration laws.
Those involved in the agency are all of Filipino descent.
The massive fraud was uncovered when Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Rachel Rollings announced charges of marriage fraud and document delivery fraud to the federal government. The charges mention hundreds of frauds between foreign "customers" and US citizens.
The charges mention Marcialito Biol "Mars" Benitez, 48, as the operator of the "agency." Him and ten other Southern Californians are charged with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud for operating the "agency" that arranged hundreds of sham marriages.
Some defendants arranged marriages and submitted fraudulent marriage and immigration documents for agency clients, including false tax returns.
Other defendants allegedly acted as recruiters for US citizens who agreed to marry the agency's clients in exchange for a down payment and monthly payments from the clients' spouses after marriage.
The same defendants then staged marriages.
After matching foreign clients with citizen spouses, the agency staged sham wedding ceremonies in chapels, parks, and elsewhere, with officiants hired online.
According to the indictment, agency employees took photos of their undocumented clients and citizen spouses in front of wedding cakes and decorations for later submission with immigration petitions.
In some cases, the United States citizens did not want to continue with the farce. Then the agency petitioned its clients under the Violence Against Women Act, arguing that the citizens retracted as a form of abuse of their "wives.".