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Immigration Fraud Scheme Involving Fake Marriages Busted in US; Here's how it was Orchestrated

Explore the conviction of Engilbert Ulan, a key player in a large-scale marriage fraud.
 Engilbert Ulan's Key Role in Operating a Marriage Fraud Scheme. Pexels | By Sabel Blanco
Engilbert Ulan's Key Role in Operating a Marriage Fraud Scheme. Pexels | By Sabel Blanco

Immigration offers an option for people to look for more opportunities abroad and make a better life in another land, but it can also land them in the centre of a scam. The latest to take advantage of this desire to emigrate to the US is a 42-year-old Philippine national residing in Los Angeles, who has been convicted by a federal jury in Boston for orchestrating a large-scale marriage fraud scheme. This scheme, run by an "agency" operated by Marcialito "Mars" Benitez, involved arranging over 300 sham marriages aimed at circumventing immigration laws.

Marriage Fraud Pexels | By Sora Shimazaki
Marriage Fraud Pexels | By Sora Shimazaki

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy underscored the severity of Ulan's actions, emphasizing the fraudulent agency's exploitation of the immigration system for personal gains. The conviction is seen as a swift and decisive enforcement action, reflecting a commitment to preserving the integrity of the immigration process and upholding the principles that define the nation's approach to welcoming immigrants and prospective citizens. This legal intervention sends a clear message that marriage fraud will not be tolerated.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), led by Special Agent in Charge Jodi Cohen, considers Ulan's conviction a warning to others attempting to circumvent immigration laws. This collaborative approach underscores the government's commitment to maintaining the sanctity of the immigration process and safeguarding the nation's values.

Homeland security Pexels | By Pixabay
Homeland security Pexels | By Pixabay


It was also found that these sham marriages orchestrated by Ulan wasted federal resources, delayed legitimate marriages, and posed threats to national security by enabling individuals to remain in the country through deceit.

Ulan's involvement in the marriage fraud scheme extended beyond mere orchestration. Evidence presented at trial revealed a detailed modus operandi, including staged sham wedding ceremonies and the fabrication of supporting documents. The agency, with Ulan as a key player, paired foreign national "clients" with US citizens and staged fake wedding ceremonies at various locations. These ceremonies were performed by hired online officiants, and photos of undocumented clients and citizen spouses were taken in front of prop wedding decorations for later submission with immigration applications.

Ulan conducted practice interviews with the agency's clients and their fake spouses, preparing them to pass required interviews with immigration authorities. His coaching involved instructing sham couples to provide consistent, fabricated answers during green card interviews, concealing the fraudulent nature of the marriages.

Ulan also prepared fraudulent marriage and immigration documents, including fabricating supporting documents submitted as "evidence" of the marriage's legitimacy. He rented out his apartment address to clients residing outside of Los Angeles, allowing them to list his address on green card applications and related documents, creating a false appearance that they were living with their sham spouses in the Los Angeles area. Ulan received cash commissions for referring new clients to the agency.

FBI Pexels | By Ekaterina Bolovtsova

Ulan's conviction serves as a critical milestone in the fight against marriage fraud and the exploitation of the U.S. immigration system. The collaboration between law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and Homeland Security, highlights the government's ability to preserve the integrity of the immigration process.