Feds raid San Gabriel, Arcadia locations over visa-fraud scheme involving criminals on China’s most-wanted list (Pasadena Star News link): The FBI and federal immigration agents on Wednesday searched a hotel and two homes in the San Gabriel Valley for evidence related to an alleged $50 million visa fraud scheme that gave green cards to Chinese nationals, including criminals on China’s most wanted list.
Agents served search warrants at an office located at the Hilton hotel at 225 West Valley Blvd. in San Gabriel, a house in a gated community in the 700 block of Carriage House Drive in Arcadia and a townhouse on Larry Beard Drive in South El Monte.
Officials said they believed that the alleged scheme that began in 2008 bilked investors through the EB-5 visa program, which allows foreigners to get a green card in exchange for investing at least $500,000 in an American business that must also create 10 new jobs.
FBI Special Agent Gary Chen alleged that Victoria Chan, an attorney who lives in South El Monte, along with her father, Tat Chan, exploited the visa program by persuading over 100 Chinese nationals to invest more than $50 million through a fund operated out of offices on the ground floor of the Hilton in San Gabriel, according to the 113-page affidavit filed in support of the search warrants.
But instead of investing the money with American businesses, Chen said the suspects spent the money on personal items, cars and homes. They are believed to have bought more than a dozen residences in cities across Southern California, including Diamond Bar, Arcadia, Bradbury, Rancho Cucamonga and Riverside. Five of the nine homes are worth millions.
Chen said the duo’s fund, identified as the California Investment Immigration Fund LLC in the affidavit, and other related companies refunded investors while their immigration petitions were pending, a violation of the EB-5 visa program.
“As a result of the fraudulent scheme, many foreign nationals were able to improperly obtain U.S. green cards through the EB-5 visa program, even though those foreigners did not in fact truly invest in U.S. businesses, nor were new (full-time) American jobs created,” Chen wrote in the affidavit.
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The suspects in the case are accused of collecting $50 million from scores of Chinese nationals, who were granted permission to live in the United States in exchange for investing the money in development projects that authorities say never occurred.
The money, investigators claim in court records, fueled a luxurious life of multimillion-dollar homes and high-priced cars for the alleged masterminds of the scheme — Victoria Chan, an attorney; Tat Chan, her father; and Fang Zeng, the father’s friend.
The raids come as money has poured into the San Gabriel Valley in recent years from China, causing home values to soar and fueling a boom in upscale development catering to wealthy visitors from the mainland.
It’s now illegal in Russia to share an image of Putin as a gay clown (Washington Post link): Russia has banned a picture depicting President Vladimir Putin as a potentially gay clown.
Russian news outlets are having trouble reporting exactly which image of the Internet's many Putin-gay-clown memes is now illegal to share. Because, you know, it's been banned. But the picture was described last week on the Russian government's list of things that constitute “extremism.”
Item 4071: a picture of a Putin-like person “with eyes and lips made up,” captioned with an implicit anti-gay slur, implying “the supposed nonstandard sexual orientation of the president of the Russian Federation.”