Eight people, including a Lake Mary man, were arrested this month and accused of trying to help foreign students stay in the U.S. without proper documentation by taking advantage of a student visa program, reports the Detroit Free Press.
The Department of Homeland Security set up a fake university in the Michigan town of Farmington Hills to target foreign students, according to the indictment filed Jan. 15 in Detroit.
Students wishing to study in the U.S. must apply for F-1 visas through universities approved by DHS and those students must be working toward a degree.
The fake University of Farmington had a website, phone numbers and an office in Farmington Hills but was staffed with undercover Homeland Security Investigation agents. The investigative unit is part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The indictment claims that the students knew they would not attend classes or earn credits toward a degree and also understood that the university program was not approved by DHS.
The Free Press reports HSI had been conducting the undercover investigation since 2015.
The defendants are accused of helping to enroll students in exchange for cash and kickbacks, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Barath Kakireddy, 29, of Lake Mary, was arrested in Florida. Other suspects were arrested in Virginia and Michigan.
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