New York, Jan 31: At least eight people – all either Indian citizens or of Indian origin – have been arrested across cities in the US in connection with visa fraud charges.
A statement from the office of US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Matthew Schneider, said. Six arrests were made in Detroit, one in Florida and one in Virginia. In addition to the eight, an unspecified number of Indian students have been detained by the Department of Homeland Security in connection with the above case.
The indictments unsealed on Wednesday charged the eight individuals, “a group of foreign citizens”, with conspiracy to commit visa fraud and harbour aliens for profit. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents had posed as owners and employees of the University of Farmington in Farmington Hills, Michigan, approximately between June 2017 and January 2019 as part of an undercover operation to uncover immigration fraud, the indictment says.
One of the eight defendants, an Aswanth ( aka Ashwanth) Nune, is alleged to have made in excess of $25,000 via this scheme, and assisted at least 18 other foreign citizens, as per the charge-sheet. The other seven individuals arrested are Barath Kakireddy, 29, of Lake Mary, FL, Suresh Kandala, 31, of Culpeper, Virginina, Phanideep Karnati, 35, of Louisville, Kentucky, Prem Rampeesa, 26, of Charlotte, North Carolina, Santosh Sama, 28, of Fremont, California, Avinash Thakkallapally, 28, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Aswanth Nune, 26, of Atlanta, Georgia and Naveen Prathipati, 26, of Dallas, Texas. If convicted, they could be jailed for up to five years.
The defendants helped at least 600 foreign citizens as per one of the indictments, The Detroit Free Press reported. (UNI)