According to officials a ring of Russian-born immigrants living in, and around Philadelphia and led by David Lynn, 33, advised at least 330 eastern European clients to claim that they feared persecution based on religious grounds, or for persecution of sexual orientation, among other claims.
It has since been determined that only a handful of his clients actually achieved asylum and gained entry into the United States from 2003, to 2007.
Legal immigration into the US and the securing of an immigration greencard that provides legal immigrants with the right to seek employment in this country is a process that takes time, and involves a series of protocols that ultimately results in the approval of the immigrant in the eyes of the government to live, seek employment and ultimately earn a living here.
However, the assumption of legal immigrant status, and the granting of a Green Card is by no means a foregone conclusion, and not everyone succeeds. Those who do, wish the process were faster and less arduous.
Enter the scammers who purport that they know the system, the means to fast-track clients through, and the secrets to gain legal immigrant status.
That information doesn't come cheap, as was the case with the clients of David Lynn. He charged $8,000 per applicant, or $10,000 to $12,000 per family. The scammer acquired so much cash from desperate would-be immigrants that Lynn was found to have stashed $560,000 in cash together with two gold bars in his basement floor, according to an indictment unsealed yesterday.
"This fraud was about nothing more than money," said acting U.S. Attorney Laurie Magid, who told the Associated Press that Lynn exploited "one of the cornerstones of the American immigration system."
Lynn, who hails from Isreal and is also known as David Waisman, was the leader of the illegal immigration ring that included his father-in-law, Yevgeny Zemlyansky, 61, of Feasterville; Ilya Zherelyev, 46, of Philadelphia; Anatoly Zagrinichny, 62, of Philadelphia; Akbar Kadirov, 54, of Philadelphia; and 41-year-old Nelly Katsman of Holland.
Lynn ran a supposed translation service and claimed to be a lawyer, which was patently false, according to officials.
Authorities siezed a total $1.3 in cash and other assetts from the various defendants, including funds languishing in an offshore Swiss bank account. It has been reported that Lynn himself is in the US illegally, whereas his fellow members of the ring are either naturalized citizens, or legal permanent residents.
Most of the ring's clients were from Russia, while others hailed from Ukraine, Poland and elsewhere. The green card seekers were coached to tell immigration officials they feared persecution in their homeland for being Baptist, Jewish, a Jehovah's Witness or gay, according to authorities. Associated Press reported that one of Lynn's associates sometimes served as an interpreter at the interviews
Raising the thousands of dollars needed to pay Lynn and his underlings as a consultant for immigration purposes would have proven a hardship for many individuals and families. Needless to say with such a low success rate, many clients became dissatisfied and blew the whistle to authorities about the operation.
For an illegal immigrant, Lynn is reported to have done well for himself. In addition to the money he had made off his clients, he was also a landowner. While Lynn has yet to be taken into custody, his father-in-law Zemlyansky is in custody after allegedly hiding the income he had received from Lynn, as well as the relationhip to his son-in-law, in order to received $12,000 in federal housing subsidies for one of Lynn's properties in Bucks County between 2004 and 2007.
Zagranichny is said to have also hid the income earned from Lynn in order to improperly benefit from nearly $20,000 in federal housing subsidies in Philadelphia.
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Also, if you have been ill-advised, or ill-treated by an immigration official, a US immigration attorney can best advise you on how to respond and proceed, in the most appropriate fashion.
You may need, and want to emmigrate to the US in the worst way. However, there is a right, and a wrong way to go about it. And you certainly don't want to rub the system the wrong way.