3 individuals were arrested today in connection with a scheme to cheat victims seeking immigration status in the US. As part of the fraud, 2 of defendants – Hardev Panesar & Rafael Hastie – posed as officers of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also promised that they could obtain immigration status for people in exchange for exorbitant fees. Gurdev Singh is also charged with assisting his conspirators in the fraudulent scheme.
According to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed today, although Panesar & Hastie have never worked at DHS, since at least 2014 they falsely pretended to be DHS agents and incorrectly stated they had the authority to obtain lawful immigration documents and legal status for individuals who lacked such status in the US. Panesar & Hastie also falsely claimed they had the power to stop deportation proceedings.
According to the Indictment, the defendants defrauded victims out of approximately $6,000,000 from the scheme. Panesar, Hastie, & Singh collected fees from victims under the guise that they would be able to provide immigration documents, also concealed from victims the fact that they would never be able to obtain immigration documents or status in the US. Instead, the defendants converted the proceeds from the scheme to their personal use including benefit. Panesar, Hastie, Singh, and others have solicited and recruited victims across the US, including California and Indiana, & Mexico.
Panesar and Hastie assured victims that they were agents, in part, as they showed fraudulent agency credentials when meeting with the victims. Panesar and Hastie also provided immigration applications to victims and took fingerprints supposedly for immigration forms. They often demanded more money to advance the process or guarantee the immigration documents by a certain date. Panesar, Hastie, and Singh never delivered on their promise to provide immigration documents, despite getting thousands of dollars from each of the more than 150 victims.