— By Domani Spero
Thanh Nien Daily continues to cover the Michael Sestak case in Vietnam. A recent update details how a jilted lover, referred to as “Lan” reportedly the anonymous source in the criminal complaint, exposed the $10 million visa fraud allegedly perpetuated by FSO Michael T. Sestak and four other conspirators.
A year ago, the US consulate in Ho Chi Minh City received a letter from a jilted man in central Vietnam that helped them crack a US$10-million fraud they otherwise might have never learned about.
Now he wants his fiancé back. He wants his money back. He wants President Obama to reform the US immigration system. And he wants protection from the roughly 410 people who should get deported any day now because he talked.
“First I called the consulate, but it wasn’t successful,” he said. “Then I sent them a letter.”
Last June, Lan sent pictures and personal details of seven of these women to the Fraud Investigator at the Ho Chi Minh City consulate. He also filed an online complaint with the State Department’s Office of Inspector General.
As he waited for a response, he monitored the lives of those who had left him behind and stewed.
“I watched their smiling, happy lives unfold on Facebook,” he said adding that he became too depressed to continue working.
Before Sestak’s arrest, the consulate fired three Vietnamese employees working in the non-immigrant visa department—including a longtime fraud investigator.
Coverage of the case in this paper and others quoted affidavits filed by DSS agents crediting an “anonymous source” for informing them about 50-70 villagers who bought visas to America in a three-month period.
It seems without Lan, there wouldn’t have been any case. But, he says, he’s received nothing for his help. The DSS agents he had worked with stopped returning his calls and emails.
He wasn’t exactly easy to handle.
Reached by phone, DSS Special Agent Tai N. Pham—whose business card was scanned onto Lan’s website—dismissed the claims.
“We tried to keep him anonymous,” Pham said. “Law enforcement has no authority to promise anyone anything […] If someone is truly being threatened it’s hard for me to believe he’d put everything he told law enforcement out there online.”
Continue reading: Jilted informant helps crack massive US visa fraud. The story is sort of weird but also sad.
The thing that is worrisome about this, if true, is that ConGen Ho Chi Minh City is one of the few consular posts that actually has a Regional Security Officer-Investigator, an RSO dedicated to visa investigations. If this case started with this reportedly jilted lover, the question then becomes how come the internal consular management controls did not trip up the FSO accused in this case? If there was no anonymous source, would the authorities have discovered what was right under their noses?
Visa issuing posts issue Certifications of Consular Management Controls where the responsible officer certifies not only that the review has been conducted and completed but also identifies areas of non-compliance.
One of the areas routinely reviewed is nonimmigrant visa refusals and issuances. These are reviewed electronically daily by the appropriate supervisors in the chain of command. In cases where the supervisory officer determines that an error was made during initial adjudication, the supervisory officer re-interviews the applicant and speaks with the adjudicating officer prior to adjudicating the case under his/her own login. When this happens, the supervisory officer reportedly is trained to enter a thorough explanation in the system. Most of the alleged Sestak cases have been refused multiple times prior to issuance. Who reviewed his visa issuances? Doesn’t the CCD broadcast a red alert when issuances go beyond the average norm particularly in high fraud posts? Nah?
Another area is the Visa Lookout Accountability (VLA). Consular supervisors reportedly review (although we don’t know how often), a random sampling of issuances to verify that adjudicating officers comply with VLA procedures. The Fraud Prevention Manager (FPM) apparently twice a month also pulls a database generated report that deals with visa issuances over “hits” to ensure that officers are compliant with published guidelines. If the VLA review and the FPM review also failed to detect these alleged visa shenanigans, then that’s a wall with a big hole.