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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Leader of Nonprofit Music Organization Pleads Guilty in Visa Fraud Scheme

Yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn, Stella Boyadjian, the operator of a non-profit organization called Big Apple Music Awards Foundation Inc., based in Rego Park, Queens, New York, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bring aliens unlawfully into the United States, visa fraud, and aggravated identity theft.  The guilty plea was entered before United States Magistrate Judge Sanket J. Bulsara.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate assisted in the case, which was a joint investigation by the Diplomatic Security Service’s Criminal Fraud Investigations and Overseas Criminal Investigations Divisions.

Between January 2013 and December 2014, Boyadjian and others engaged in a widespread visa fraud scheme to bring foreign nationals illegally into the United States by fraudulently claiming to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services that they were members of traditional Armenian performance groups and thus qualified for P-3 visas as “culturally unique” artists or entertainers.

The conspirators solicited foreign nationals and, in exchange for fees up to $10,000, prepared and filed fraudulent P-3 visa applications.  In furtherance of the scheme, the conspirators purchased fraudulent documentation to support the applications, including fake dance certificates and staged photo sessions where the foreign nationals wore Armenian dance costumes to make it appear as though they were traditional Armenian musicians, singers and performers.  Once successfully in the United States, some recipients of the fraudulently obtained P-3 visas paid additional fees to the conspirators to obtain extensions of their stays in the United States.

When sentenced, Boyadjian faces a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment for visa fraud, and an additional mandatory consecutive sentence of two years’ imprisonment for aggravated identity theft.

Read more at USCIS

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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