US Visas for $12,000 in Ukraine?

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The FBI Cleveland office has just announced the arrest and charges filed in a lengthy investigation involving members of a criminal organization that trafficked in fake documents and fraudulent US visas in Ohio and Ukraine.

The investigation was reportedly started in December of 2007 when information was received that individuals in the Cleveland Ukrainian community were involved in a scheme to bring foreign nationals to Cleveland, Ohio and help them fraudulently obtain real Ohio driver’s licenses for a fee, issued by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) by a Deputy Registrar working for this criminal organization.

The FBI says that an undercover FBI agent was able to fraudulently obtain a real Ohio Driver’s License in August of 2008 for $3000 from this criminal organization. The investigation showed that this criminal organization operated for at least four years, charging foreign nationals, most of whom are unlawfully present, between $1,500 and $3,000 for Ohio driver’s licenses, and Ohio state identification cards using either fraudulent documentation or none at all.

The FBI also says that during the course of the US-based investigation, the investigators in Cleveland discovered evidence that the criminal group in Ohio were working with criminal counterparts in Ukraine. Together, they fraudulently obtained United States non-immigrant visas for Ukrainian nationals who then traveled to Ohio and other points in the United States. The visas were obtained from the United States Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, allegedly through corrupt Ukrainian national employees of the US Embassy.

The investigative team from Cleveland, the FBI’s Legal Attaché’s Office in Kyiv, and Diplomatic Security Service Special Agents assigned to the US Embassy in Ukraine investigated the Ukrainian criminal group jointly with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Organized Crime Department over the course of many months. The criminal group allegedly charged each visa applicant $12,000.00. As a result of the joint international investigation, seven members of the Ukraine-based criminal organization, including two Embassy employees, were officially detained today in Ukraine by investigators of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs for violation of Ukrainian laws.

I inquired from the press office of US Embassy Kyiv if they have an official statement, but zip, nada. Usually comes with the territory for bloggers in pjs, btw. From my experience, only the press office at US Embassy Kabul is accommodating. Even when they can’t give you the info you want, they at least, take the time to write back. End of rant, moving on.

Read the whole thing here.

Related Item:
Inspection of Embassy Kyiv, Ukraine
OIG Report Number ISP-I-07-17A | March 2007

One response

  1. You don’t seriously believe that Ukrainian nationals working at the US Embassy have powers to grant visas to other foreign nationals, do you ? There’s an American worker involved somewhere along the way. And based on the sheer number of people entering US with these “bought” visas – there’s at least couple thousands illegal Ukrainian immigrants in the city I live in – there’s got to be quite a few American embassy worker on the take. Either that, or they are complete idiots who don’t see a large scale visa selling business going on right under their noses – which I personally find hard to believe.

    Sadly, people in the Ukraine who have American relatives are routinely denied guest visas, as the quota is taken up by the “paying clients”.

    This has been going on since at least 2001, and is still going on to this day, from what I hear.

    What a shame.