Report Date: February 2021
Report Highlight: lead_inspector_general_for_operation_inherent_resolve_october_1_2020_-_december_31_2020_overview.pdf
Public Affairs (202) 981-6000adrian.edwards Thu, 01/28/2021 - 09:48
For Immediate ReleaseWednesday, January 27, 2021 Download PDF (193.42 KB)
On January 8, 2021, the International Technological University (ITU) in Santa Clara, California, entered into a settlement agreement with the United States to pay $1,170,000 under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, in order to settle allegations related to student visa fraud.
ITU, a non-profit educational institution, participates in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, the component within Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that manages the certification process for U.S. educational institutions seeking to enroll nonimmigrant students. To qualify for a visa under the program, a foreign national must apply and be admitted to an approved U.S. educational institution, and then submit a visa application to the Department of State.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) initiated this investigation based on allegations that between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2015, ITU did not comply with federal immigration laws governing the issuance of student visas. Specifically, ITU is alleged to have knowingly submitted false forms for foreign nationals seeking to qualify for a student visa, depriving the United States of visa application fees.
This matter was jointly investigated by DHS OIG, HSI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, Civil Division, San Francisco, California.
“Greed-driven schemes to manipulate U.S. visa laws will not be tolerated,” said DHS Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari. “Working with our law enforcement partners, our investigators will continue to protect the integrity of U.S. visa programs and related resources.”
“Homeland Security Investigations will not allow fraud schemes to go unchecked,” said Homeland Security Investigations (NorCal) Special Agent in Charge Tatum King. “Institutions of higher learning should always set the example and teach students the importance of their civic responsibility to obey the law. When an institution participates in fraud schemes, it degrades the integrity of the institution and jeopardizes the individuals the institution has been entrusted to teach at an impressionable time in their lives. HSI is grateful for the contributions of our partners with DHS OIG, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, and USCIS on this important settlement agreement.”
Officers from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Office of Fraud Detection and National Security assisted with the early investigation in 2010 and subsequently spent thousands of hours identifying hundreds of students who were not attending class as required. USCIS San Francisco District Director John Kramar stated, “USCIS takes integrity of our immigration system seriously and will pursue fraud and misuse with enforcement agencies.”
This settlement resolves allegations originally brought in a lawsuit filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act by Concepcion Saenz-Cambra, Ph.D., an ITU employee. Under the False Claims Act, private parties can sue on behalf of the government for false claims for government funds and to receive a share of the recovery.
The case is captioned U.S. ex rel. Saenz-Cambra v. International Technological University. The claims resolved by the settlements are allegations only.
DHS Office of the Inspector General, www.oig.dhs.govFalse Claims Act Investigations
Public Affairs (202) 254-4100adrian.edwards Fri, 01/22/2021 - 16:46
For Immediate ReleaseFriday, January 22, 2021 Download PDF (121.27 KB)
WASHINGTON – An indictment charging three defendants was unsealed in the District of Columbia today. The indictment charges Aws Muwafaq Abduljabbar, 42; Haitham Isa Saado Sad, 42; and Olesya Leonidovna Krasilova, 43, with conspiracy to steal U.S. government records and to defraud the United States, theft of U.S. government records, and conspiracy to launder money, all related to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). The indictment also charges Sad and Krasilova with computer fraud and abuse. The announcement was made by Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael R. Sherwin, the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security, Dr. Joseph V. Cuffari, and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Assistant Director for Domestic Operations Ricardo Colón.
According to the indictment, Sad was employed in Amman, Jordan from 2007 to 2016 by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Krasilova held a similar position at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia. Part of their duties included processing applications for refugee resettlement in the United States through the USRAP. The indictment charges that, from approximately February 2016 until at least April 2019, the three defendants, led by Abduljabbar, conspired to steal U.S. government records related to hundreds of USRAP applications. The records contained sensitive, non-public information about refugee applicants, their family members, their employment and military history, their accounts of persecution or fear of persecution, the results of security checks, and internal assessments by U.S. officials regarding applications.
As outlined in the indictment, the theft of USRAP records creates a number of risks to public safety and national security while imposing significant costs on the U.S. government, its taxpayers, and otherwise legitimate refugee applicants negatively impacted by the scheme. Defendants Abduljabbar and Sad were previously arrested and remain held without bond. Defendant Krasilova remains at large.
“The charges unsealed today demonstrate the commitment of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to protect the integrity of critical government functions like the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, which exists to identify and admit qualified refugees for resettlement in the United States,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin for the District of Columbia. “It is important to hold accountable those who would seek to defraud such programs, particularly when the crimes compromise our national security and public safety, when they impose such high costs on taxpayers, and when they negatively impact the prospects of qualified refugee applicants.”
“This indictment sends a strong message: the Diplomatic Security Service is committed to making sure that those who are alleged to have stolen U.S. government records related to refugee admissions face consequences for their criminal actions,” said DSS Assistant Director for Domestic Operations Ricardo Colón. “This case demonstrates the collaborative efforts of our law enforcement partners, and showcases the forensic and investigative capabilities of DSS.”
“Individuals like Ms. Krasilova and Mr. Sad are entrusted to protect the integrity of the U.S. immigration system and sensitive information vital to our national security interests,” said Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Dr. Joseph V. Cuffari. “The Office of Inspector General remains committed to aggressively investigating DHS employees who abuse their positions, betray the public trust, and conspire with persons such as Mr. Abduljabbar to defraud the United States.”
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The maximum penalty for conspiracy to commit an offense or defraud the United States is five years; the maximum penalty for theft of government records is 10 years; the maximum penalty for conspiracy to launder money is 20 years; and the maximum penalty for the charged computer fraud and abuse is five years. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, a defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case is being investigated jointly by the DHS Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Luke M. Jones and Erik M. Kenerson of the National Security Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs assisted.
DHS Office of the Inspector General, www.oig.dhs.govCriminal Investigations MGMT