LOS ANGELES, April 24 (Xinhua) -- A California man charged with orchestrating an immigration fraud scheme that involved Chinese nationals who paid thousands of dollars to fake marriage with U.S. citizens was sentenced Monday to two years in prison.
Jason Shiao, 67-year-old, pleaded guilty in January to one count of conspiracy to commit visa and marriage fraud.
His 44-year-old daughter, Lynn Leung, was sentenced last week to six months behind bars to the same charge.
Federal officials said Shiao and his daughter organized more than 70 fake marriages between October 2006 and July 2015 for Chinese nationals who paid up to 50,000 U.S. dollars in order to obtain a permanent U.S. resident visa, or so-called "green card."
According to City News Service, Shiao, who posed as an immigration attorney, and his daughter lined up U.S. citizen "spouses" for their clients and coached the couples on how to make the marriages appear genuine when questioned by immigration authorities.
They also prepared and filed immigration petitions and created fraudulent paper trails for the "couples," including phony apartment leases, wedding photos and bank statements.
Investigators said U.S. citizens recruited in the immigration fraud scheme were in need of money and lured by the promise of up to 10,000 U.S. dollars.
But most of the U.S. recruits were found by words of mouth and many of them said that they never got their money. Shiao and his daughter netted up to 3.5 million U.S. dollars from the fraud scheme.
Marriage fraud is a long-standing problem for U.S. immigration officials.
Foreign nationals who marry U.S. citizens legitimately may lawfully become U.S. permanent residents, but it's difficult for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to determine whether the intent to marry is genuine or just for immigration purposes.
Under American law, marriage fraud is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of 250,000 U.S. dollars.