On July 17, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that Nimon Naphaeng, a native and citizen of Thailand who resided in Rhode Island, was sentenced on July 17, 2017, to 27 months in federal prison for running an immigration fraud scheme [link]. In addition to his conviction, Naphaeng will likely face removal for his criminal conduct.
In entering his guilty plea, Naphaeng admitted to details of his immigration fraud scheme. Using both the internet and fliers posted in Thai restaurants, he had advertised himself as being able to help Thai nationals obtain employment authorization documents. In reality, Naphaeng was filing false asylum applications on behalf of these individuals without their consent or knowledge. In order to complete his scheme, Naphaen had applicants provide him with their personal information. By filing these false asylum applications, many of his unwitting clients became eligible for employment authorization documents and other benefits. Naphaeng charged about $1,500 to $2,500 per client. He ultimately defrauded more than 320 individuals of at least $400,000.
Naphaeng ultimately pled guilty to seven counts of mail fraud and two counts of visa fraud. Both the government and the defense recommended that Naphaeng be sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. However, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith followed the federal sentencing guidelines and imposed a harsher sentence of 27 months imprisonment. Naphaeng will also be required to pay restitution, which according to court documents, may exceed $518,300.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard W. Rose and Mary E. Rogers.
Unfortunately, there are individuals looking to take advantage of vulnerable foreign nationals in the United States in complex fraud schemes. For this reason, an individual seeking any sort of immigration benefit should consult with an experienced immigration attorney. It is always crucial to check the credentials of the individual offering immigration assistance. Careful vetting is the safest way to avoid becoming victim to an immigration fraud scheme.