ICE Says Students Duped By Its Fake College Sting Should Have Known It Was A Sting

from the so-are-you-going-to-start-issuing-tuition-refunds-or-what dept

Those assholes at ICE are still at it. For most of the past year, ICE’s fake college sting has resulted in a long string of arrests, but not very many prosecutions.

The sting involved a fictitious university set up by ICE to ensnare foreigners seeking to extend their US stays by complying with the law. That’s the underlying truth that was dismantled by ICE’s fiction. Visitors on student visas are allowed to stay in the country as long as they continue their studies.

ICE’s fake college looked like a legitimate option, seeing as the agency had talked an accreditation agency into giving it the official thumbs-up as a certified education entity. The fake college had an online presence and a physical building. It also had staffing that accepted tuition money before turning applicants in to ICE agents.

ICE netted 250 arrests from this sting, with most duped students opting for voluntary departure. The agency is being sued for its fakery — something it has consistently spun as foreigners bypassing the law to stay in the country. But this is what the law allows them to do and ICE is punishing them for doing it.

Very few of the arrests deal with fraudulent actions by students. Instead, criminal charges have targeted a few middlemen who took cash from visitors on student visas with promises to help them avoid being deported. Out of ICE’s 250 arrests, only eight resulted in criminal charges. The bulk of the sting operation netted nothing more than administrative charges, ending some students’ stay in the country.

ICE insists the US government is the real victim here. The victims of ICE’s scam university aren’t actually victims, according to ICE. They’re actually crafty operators gaming the country’s visa system.

Attorneys for ICE and the Department of Justice maintain that the students should have known it was not a legitimate university because it did not have classes in a physical location.

It’s as if online classes have never existed. This doesn’t actually show intent. It just shows how well the fake university was constructed by ICE — something that looked legitimate until the arrests started. Attorneys we’re paying for are helping ICE play the victim after duping students out of thousands of dollars in tuition and fees before setting them up with deportation.

“Their true intent could not be clearer,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Helms wrote in a sentencing memo this month for Rampeesa, one of the eight recruiters, of the hundreds of students enrolled. “While ‘enrolled’ at the University, one hundred percent of the foreign citizen students never spent a single second in a classroom. If it were truly about obtaining an education, the University would not have been able to attract anyone, because it had no teachers, classes, or educational services.”

Most of this simply isn’t true. And what is true isn’t indicative of trustworthy government employees or agencies. As mentioned above, the fake university obtained accreditation from a nationwide service and the DHS’s own website listed the fake university as an option for students in the US on visas.

In addition, students who did wonder about the lack of classes were unable to get any straight answers from the ICE agents posing as college staff. Those that did think this wasn’t legit tried to transfer out. This fact was ignored by ICE, who arrested students transferring out along with those it claims were gaming the visa system by staying enrolled at its fake college.

This ugly incident should be a permanent stain on the agency. Instead, an effort that began during the Obama administration will be portrayed as a victory over thieving foreigners by the DOJ, ICE, and a president who thinks the world will be a better place if everyone else in it stays the hell out of the United States.

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Comments on “ICE Says Students Duped By Its Fake College Sting Should Have Known It Was A Sting”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

Just like the Illegals in the Cages blamed on Trump, when those pictures were in fact from when OBAMA was in office and no one cared!!!

Still, if you’re here ILLEGALLY, you should get the BOOT. You have ZERO right to come here and live here just because you think you have the right to. You don’t!!! The faster you get the boot the better.

I’m all for this sting. Those people getting the boot, they’ll try to get back here some other way to once again breaking our laws and cutting the line for all those trying to come here LEGALLY!!! I welcome those people. All the rest should be tossed out of this country on their butts.

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Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

Just like the Illegals in the Cages blamed on Trump, when those pictures were in fact from when OBAMA was in office and no one cared!!!

"No one cared"!?! Objection!!!

Still, if you’re here ILLEGALLY, you should get the BOOT. You have ZERO right to come here and live here just because you think you have the right to. You don’t!!! The faster you get the boot the better.

So everybody here who’s not from a Native American tribe should get the boot. Gotcha. Unless you didn’t mean that. And if you think you could tell who belongs here legally just by looking at people, you’re probably a racist. Here’s how I know for sure: If I bring a white English-speaking Canadian from Toronto and a brown Spanish-speaking Puerto-Rican to where you live, you’d think the Puerto Rican is here illegally, despite them being here 100% legally and the white Canadian being here 100% illegally.

Unless you think the white English-speaking Canadian should ALSO be deported, then I apologize in advance.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I'VE said it before, and I'll SAY it again

Hey bro maybe you could shine a bit of a light on something. Why is it 100% of the time I read screeds with random words capitalised, the writer is a racist, right wing nut job?

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

I hadn’t known about it in 2015, specifically. When I heard about it for the first time, I assumed it had existed since before Obama. I was wrong about that, but both when I first heard about it and now, I have not liked ICE or found it necessary.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was formed under the Homeland Security Act of 2002.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Immigration_and_Customs_Enforcement

ICE was created under Bush43.
I guess the part that started under Obama is the increase in deportations while the fake school is under trump.

keithzg (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

Yeah, by the 2012 election it was pretty clear that Obama’s political approach and policies (already a bit insufficient even in their campaign-promise incarnation when he ran in 2008) were not worth even voting for, much less supporting or apologizing for. I can’t actually remember who I voted for in 2012 myself (it certainly wasn’t Romney) but it wasn’t Obama.

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Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: When we felt #AbolishICE

Some of us felt ICE should be abolished on 2012-01-20, when the Kim Dotcom estate was raided in New Zealand for no real reason that actually might warrant a SWAT raid. At that point ICE was serving more as a mercenary unit for the RIAA and MPAA than as an agency of the United States, which was something that no US agency should have been doing, yet ICE commonly does.

So far, they still haven’t been able to pin a broken law on Kim Dotcom, either from the state of New Zealand or the United States, and yet the US wants to have him extradited to the US — where Dotcom has never gone, to be tried for conspiracy and espionage, which are charges that could put an infant into a US prison.

ICE doesn’t even try to behave like a legal agency, and only serves as hired guns for oligarchs and corporations, which is how they do things like:

Shutting down websites by the hundreds of thousands without investigation or due process because some of them were on an anti-pirate blacklist provided by an NGO… oh wow. ICE has done this a bunch of times for various commercial causes and are still doing it in 2019. Because they can, I guess.

and The shutdown and raid of dozens of electronics repair shops in Florida that dared to repair Apple devices without being an authorized Apple dealer. While making illegal repairs might be against the law, it’s not the sort of thing that is penalized by the termination of a business.

And this is before they started rapid crackdowns of migrants and cramming them into migrant detention concentration camps. People are overpacked in rooms, kids are put in cages, infants are neglected, and infectious disease is running rampant. Food, water, hygiene and medical care are insufficient. All, right here in the United States.

ICE needs to not just be abolished, but its officers prosecuted for authorizing or participating in crimes against humanity that are being committed. We need to close ICE down as if it were the new Schutzstaffel. We need to bust officers deep into the DHS who knew about these activities and failed to do anything about them.

…Or, I guess, we can just accept that this is all on-brand for the United States, now, along with extrajudicial detention and torture, massacres of civilians by thousands in the name of fighting terror. I guess it fits in with private prisons and pigshit lagoons.

Tin-Foil-Hat says:

Re: Re: I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

I wasn’t aware of the program. However, the lack of transparency, a clear departure from his original position, to his expansion directly or indirectly of the surveillance state, Obama was a huge disappointment. I told people outright (a lot) and I also joked about Obama being replaced by an alien Obama clone shortly after being elected.

David says:

This ugly incident should be a permanent stain on the agency. Instead, an effort that began during the Obama administration will be portrayed as a victory over thieving foreigners by the DOJ, ICE, and a president who thinks the world will be a better place if everyone else in it stays the hell out of the United States.

Frankly, at the current point of time the world will be a better place if everyone in the United States goes elsewhere. This is a government not deserving a populace. On the other hand, who deserves a populace voting for that government?

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Anonymous Coward says:

This ugly incident should be a permanent stain on the agency?

No, it should be a custodial sentence for mail and wire fraud.

That’s the standard that applies if anyone else perpetrates a scam like this.

The accreditation agency should also lose its ability to operate.

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Anonymous Coward says:

The fictitious university wasn’t set up to "ensnare foreigners seeking to extend their US stays by complying with the law." That is a disingenuous description. It was set up to ensnare foreigners who are are, to paraphrase the author’s own words, "gaming the visa system by staying enrolled at a fake college", as well as the people and organizations helping them.

I’m noticing this pattern where the author keeps vigorously downplaying that the government actually alleges that the students were intentionally enrolled in a fake university for the specific purpose of illegally extending their student visas.

Tim seems to think the US government is entirely staffed by comic book villains that do everything for petty or malicious reasons.

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Whether or not that was the intention, it’s impossible to see this as anything else.

And of course that’s what the government alleges. That’s a critical component of the charges. We just find that allegation very difficult to believe since the university was not obviously fake (the government did its best to make the university look legitimate) and some students eventually tried to transfer out but were arrested anyway. And it’s not like people would’ve known ahead of time that there’d be no classes or teachers; the website says otherwise.

Actually, if there was no such malicious intent, and the government genuinely believes that these were people trying to game the visa system, why try so hard to make it seem legit? Surely they would have gone to even a more obviously fake university if that was the intent.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You find it difficult to believe the government’s allegations because everything you read paints this story in a very particular way. There are lots of parts to this story, especially about the students cooperating with ICE, that have been entirely omitted here, and which you are obviously ignorant of or ignoring.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Tim seems to think the US government is entirely staffed by comic book villains that do everything for petty or malicious reasons.”

Bro your government is headed by a comic book super villain.

After that we are pretty much just splitting hairs

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I find it strange that a group of people maligned as lazy millennials are actually smart/active enough to have noticed the huge clandestine fraud our government was perpetrating upon an unsuspecting public.
Were there any non foreigners caught in this? If so, why were they trying to escape deportation? Why were they being deported? Inquiring minds want to know.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Much of law enforcement, in the US government and elsewhere, is staffed by careerist law-and-order idiots who are interested in getting as many arrests, deportations, or whatever as they can with as little effort as possible, who do not bother to think about whether their approach to doing so is valid, and who are conditioned to presume that everyone they or anyone else accuses is guilty of something. These are people who resent that they have to prove things or follow any rules.

Venal incompetents don’t make very good comic book villians, because they are boring.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The fictitious university … was set up to ensnare foreigners who are … "gaming the visa system by staying enrolled at a fake college", as well as the people and organizations helping them.

Citation, please: 250 students arrested, 80% ‘granted’ voluntary departure. Of those 250 students, please document how they knew it was a fake college before ICE did the big reveal, and how many of them knew it in each such fashion.

From one of the articles:

Reddy said, though, that in some cases, students who transferred out from the University of Farmington after realizing they didn’t have classes on-site, were still arrested.

Citation, please: how does this support your narrative of students attempting to overstay their visa (rather than attempting to gain an actual education)?

From one of your later comments:

There are lots of parts to this story, especially about the students cooperating with ICE, that have been entirely omitted here, and which you are obviously ignorant of or ignoring.

Re the students, cooperating, please explain: Are you referring to the 80% of students who ‘voluntarily’ chose to go home? That would instead be "coerced". Legal defense costs money. Students typically do not have money. Additionally, this acquiescence does not advance the ICE investigation, so is not ‘cooperating’ in the sense you imply. Again, please provide references to back up your statement. In what way were students cooperating with ICE to advance ICE’s investigation?

Ah, perhaps this was it…

The fake university is believed to have collected millions of dollars from the unsuspecting students.

Is that the cooperation you were referring to?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: "Catching real criminals is way harder"

Well, if the end result you want is successful convictions or guys in jail, then yeah, it’s easier to just grab warm bodies off the street and claim they were engaged in wrongdoing.

But if you want a prosperous, peaceful society with less crime, actual policing is involved.

To be fair, we’ve been failing to accurately measure good policing since the Runners and Peelers.

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Berenerd (profile) says:

"ICE insists the US government is the real victim here. The victims of ICE’s scam university aren’t actually victims, according to ICE."

If by Government, they mean tax payers, then they are correct. They wasted all that money to weed out about 5% of those that responded. Of the reported 393,573 F-1 recipients that would mean %.00002 of the people here on student visa’s were found to be here criminally. GREAT JOB GUYS!!! E FOR EFFORT THERE

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crade (profile) says:

"ICE’s fake college looked like a legitimate option, seeing as the agency had talked an accreditation agency into giving it the official thumbs-up as a certified education entity. The fake college had an online presence and a physical building. It also had staffing that accepted tuition money before turning applicants in to ICE agents "

What I haven’t been able to determine is what makes it fake.. It sounds like it more than "looks" like a legitimate option, it meets all the official criteria for being one. Having real classes should be part of the criteria that is required in order to get accreditation, but the gov’t deputizes agencies with the authority to decide which schools are legit via the accreditation process. It’s easy to say it should not have been accredited, but that is just a failure by the agency.
Is the government trying to say that accreditation by a gov’t approved agency does not mean that the school is considered legitimate? If so then what does it mean that the agency is gov’t approved?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 'We're accredited by X' '... and? So was a known fraud.'

Is the government trying to say that accreditation by a gov’t approved agency does not mean that the school is considered legitimate? If so then what does it mean that the agency is gov’t approved?

If nothing else this part should really bite the agency in question in the future, as if they’re willing to hand out accreditation to a known fraud then they clearly cannot be trusted to uphold the standards used for accreditation, and therefore their stamp of approval is utterly useless in showing whether or not a college is legitimate/real.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

'... you caught psychics and you're GIVING them to us? Thanks?'

ICE: Does everything it can to make their trap look legitimate, including official accreditation.

Prospective students: Fall for trap.

ICE: ‘Hah, they should have seen through our deception, clearly they knew it was a fraud and signed up anyway!’

ICE really isn’t thinking this through, if the students are psychic(which they would basically have to be) then they should be recruiting them, not deporting them.

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

Double Sting

Ha! The joke’s on these ICE agents; this was actually a sting to ensnare people who would abuse government authority. They should have known this wasn’t a legitimate federal law enforcement agency. If they’d really wanted to be law enforcement officers, they would have sought out an agency that abides by our Constitution and laws.

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bratwurzt (profile) says:

Just a pot

  1. ICE makes a honeypot
  2. foreign would-be students get ensnared
  3. people rightfuly point out it’s a honeypot
  4. ICE: "But there’s no actual honey! Real bees don’t fall for just a pot."

How many organizations in US are justifying their existance with behaviour that justifies their abolishment?

ICE, TSA, RIAA, NRA, …

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