Indian-American family arrested for fake marriages
Ajit Bhargava, his wife Nisha and their daughter Runjhun were arrested early yesterday on charges of filing fraudulent marriages and work visa petitions for foreigners, mostly Indian nationals, after charging them fees as high as USD 60,000, federal officials were quoted as saying by `The Orange County Register`.
Bhargavas ran an immigration services company called MPEagle Consultants in Cerritos in Santa Ana, which catered primarily Indian nationals.
The three, who could face up to five years in federal prison, have been accused of recruiting unemployed and low-income Indians seeking US citizenship with promises of USD 2000 payments in exchange for marrying American clients.
The trio made the couples pose together for photos and opened joint bank accounts to make fake marriages appear real and then would file fraudulent immigration visa petition, federal officials alleged.
Bhargavas, the officer said quoted different fees to his clients depending on the type of visa. While fees for work visa would be USD 15,000, the visa based upon marriage would come as high as USD 60,000.
"They were just recycling marriage certificates, divorce certificates, witnesses or even US citizen spouses," the federal investigator said.
The three have been named in a criminal complaint file in the US district court, the Department of Justice said in a statement.
While Nisha Bhargava, 56, and daughter Runjhun entered not guilty plea in the court citing medical problem, the husband, Ajit was not present.