Lengthy Investigation of $20 Million Visa Fraud Scheme Ends in Indictment

On August 26, a married couple from Ashburn, Raju Kosuri, 44, and Smriti Jharia, 45, plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, visa fraud, and various other charges. The couple and their co-conspirators were indicted on April 27 for fraudulently applying for more than 800 illegal immigration benefits under the H-1B visa program since 2008.

Kosuri reportedly violated federal law by building a staffing business amounting to a visa-for-sale system that involved the forgery of many individuals’ signatures on visa petitions and exhibits without their knowledge or consent. By filing petitions for non-existent job vacancies, requiring workers to pay their own visa processing fees, and treating beneficiaries as hourly contractors, the scheme was able to generate at least $20 million in gross proceeds.

Separately, the couple also admitted to allegedly defrauding the Small Business Administration in an attempt to obtain HUBZone certification for a company named EcomNets Federal Solutions. Through this scheme, Kosuri and Jharia along with a third co-conspirator were able to generate $150,000 in loan proceeds and five contract awards.

The United Sates takes a strong stance in fraudulent cases, as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Homeland Security Investigations (HIS), The U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, and the U.S. Department of Labor, among other entities, all collaborated and assisted in the investigation of this elaborate scheme. If convicted, the couple could face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and their co-conspirators could face up to 10 years in prison.