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U.S. attorney: 'Massive immigration fraud'

January 14, 2009
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NORFOLK, VA — Twenty-two suspects were charged in an elaborate illegal-immigrant labor ring that took in more than $11 million in eight years while supplying labor to hotels and restaurants, according to The Virginian-Pilot.
According to the 74-count indictment, suspected leaders of the ring profited largely by applying for work visas using inflated numbers of workers needed then routing those workers, brought in from Eastern Europe, Asia and Jamaica, to unauthorized work sites like housekeeping jobs in Florida and Tennessee or fast-food jobs in Louisiana and Alabama.
A total of 10 companies and/or vendors are named in the indictment; most of those involved are foreign nationals, but several U.S.-born citizens are also connected to the scandal, the story stated.
The workers were poorly paid and had rent, rental deposits and "taxes" deducted from their paychecks. In one example given in the indictment, a Jamaican woman worked 66 hours and received a check for $20 after her rent, deposit and "taxes" were deducted, the story noted.
The ring used bribery, phony marriages potentially involving Navy personnel and bogus political asylum applications to keep it operating under the radar, the story added.
Hotels and restaurants that used the workers generally hired them through vendors so that it was up to the vendors — not the hotels and restaurants — to verify citizenship.
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