The government employs many methods to crack down on illegal immigration, but this recently uncovered scheme is particularly surprising.

According to the Detroit News, the University of Farmington in Michigan was a fake university set up by Homeland Security agents to attract foreign nationals trying to extend their student visa privileges fraudulently.

The university looked legitimate. It had a Facebook page with an events calendar, a professional website with photos of hard-working students, a red-and-blue coat of arms, a Latin motto meaning “knowledge and work,” and even a physical location in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

From February 2017 to January 2019, agents from Homeland Security posed as owners and staff of the university and hired recruiters to connect foreign nationals to the sham school. Allegedly, the recruiters also helped create false documentation, such as fake student records and transcripts, to deceive immigration authorities during the students’ application for a visa. The federal indictment explains that the recruiters reportedly “assisted at least 600 foreign citizens to illegally remain, re-enter, and work in the United States.”

According to NPR, eight alleged recruiters are now under arrest and face felony charges of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and harbor aliens for profit, and “dozens, if not hundreds, of people who enrolled could face charges and/or deportation.”

In the federal indictment, it is purported that “each of the foreign citizens who ‘enrolled’ and made ‘tuition’ payments to the University knew that they would not attend actual classes, earn credits, or make academic progress towards an actual degree in a particular field of study — a ‘pay-to-stay’ scheme.”

The University of Farmington isn’t the first sting operation of this kind used to identify fraudulent student visa applicants. In 2016, officials announced that Homeland Security used the made-up “University of Northern New Jersey” to similarly charge 21 people with visa fraud.

H/T: Business Insider

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