US: Indian CEO of two IT companies arrested for visa-fraud
An Indian citizen, who was the CEO of two information technology companies in the US, has been arrested in connection with a multi-year visa fraud scheme involving forged and fraudulent documents to get visas such as H-1B for over 200 foreign workers. Pradyumna Kumar Samal, 49, was taken into custody as he arrived from an international flight at Seattle airport this week. Here's more.
Samal had fled the US few months back
The criminal complaint was filed under seal in April, soon after Samal fled the US. He remained out of America until this week when he was arrested. The complaint describes how two companies incorporated by Samal in 2010 and 2011 in Washington state engaged in a scheme sometimes referred to as a "bench-and-switch" scheme, to exploit foreign national workers and defraud the US government.
Investigation had begun three years ago
According to the investigation that began in 2015, Samal served as the Chief Executive Officer of 'Divensi' and 'Azimetry' in Bellevue, near Seattle. Both companies were in the business of providing information technology workers, such as Software Development Engineers, to major corporate clients.
Samal submitted forged documents appearing to be signed by clients
The complaint alleges that Samal submitted and directed his employees to submit forged application materials to the US government, making them appear as if two corporate clients already agreed to use several foreign national employees named in the applications. However, neither client had agreed to do so. The forged documents appeared as if they had been signed by senior executives at the two clients.
Nearly 200 workers duped under the scheme
After the US Citizenship and Immigration Services relied on the false representations, including forged letters and fraudulent statements of work, and approved the work visa applications, Samal's companies benched the foreign nationals, leaving those foreign nationals unpaid unless they were able to place those employees at actual end clients. Nearly 200 workers may have been brought in under the phony applications.
Employees were forced to pay 'security deposit' of $5,000
The employees were forced to pay Samal's companies a partially-refundable "security deposit" of as much as $5,000 for the visa filings, regardless of whether they would be paid or not. Visa Fraud is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.