SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — A woman was indicted Aug. 30 by a federal grand jury for her alleged participation in a student visa pay-to-stay scam, which mainly benefited Indian and Chinese students. The scam was discovered by federal officials after they set up a fake university with no professors or classes.
Ting Xue, a naturalized U.S. citizen, used the network of her consulting business in order to recruit foreign nationals to enroll in the fake university, authorities said. Their enrollment was made in the hopes they would either retain or fraudulently obtain a student or work visa.
Xue has been charged with a single count of conspiracy and seven counts of visa fraud. She was just one amongst a crowd of 21 who were charged in the case — more than 1,000 foreigners fraudulently obtained student or work visas over a two and a half year timespan. The fake school — the University of Northern New Jersey — was set up by undercover agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Despite the fact the school had no real professors, students or classes, the professional appearance of its website promised “a high quality American education to students from around the world.” The site contained links to academic programs; a message from the president, a Dr. Steven Brunetti, Ph.D.; and photos of young people sitting around a library table or consulting with a faculty member.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Xue, the other defendants and the foreigners were well aware the university was not authentic, but did not know it was a sting operation. They paid the undercover agents running it thousands of dollars to produce paperwork that made it look as if the foreigners were enrolled, authorities said.
Most of the foreigners who benefited from the scam were from India and China and were already in the U.S. on student visas, federal prosecutors said in April.
Attorney Chunyu Jean Wang, representing Xue, called the charges “bogus” and said they would be “adamantly” fought.
“The government made UNNJ so real that these consultants really believed it was a real school,” Wang said.
Wang additionally called upon the government to account for the funds it accepted from the students and consultants. The law “requires the government to initiate forfeiture proceedings before they seize money and property from private citizens,” she said.
“UNNJ’s website (before it was shut down) indicated that the government was charging an annual ‘tuition’ of $12,620.00 per year, meaning that the government has likely taken in millions of dollars in tuition from the 1,076 students who were allegedly enrolled,” said Wang.