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Document and Benefit Fraud
06/11/2009

Michigan man sentenced in international student visa scheme

Last of four defendants sentenced

DETROIT - A Dearborn resident who submitted phony college transcripts to universities in order to get bogus transfer credits to gain students admission to graduate and medical school programs, and who helped foreign students obtain U.S. student visas based on false documents, was sentenced to two years in federal prison today, United States Attorney Terrence Berg announced.

Berg was joined in the announcement by Andrew G. Arena, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI and Brian Moskowitz, Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Nazeer Hamadneh, 40, of Dearborn, Michigan was sentenced today to 24 months in prison by United States District Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff in Port Huron, Michigan.

"This sentence reflects the serious nature of these crimes. Individuals who gain entry into the United States and into a college or university through fraud undermine the vetting process and could put the public at risk," said Brian M. Moskowitz, Special Agent in Charge of the ICE Office of Investigations for Michigan and Ohio. "ICE will continue to work with our partners to close this vulnerability."

According to court records, Hamadneh pleaded guilty on March 10, 2009 to Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud and Visa Fraud. Co-defendants Abbas Obeid aka Adam Obeid, 34, of Ontario, Canada, Roni Aoub, 27, of Southfield, and Majed Mamo, 40, of Wixom, Michigan all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Abbas Obeid also pled guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud.

According to the indictment filed in this case, from August 2000 through August 2008, Hamadneh and his co-defendants conspired to defraud educational institutions such as Lawrence Technological University in Southfield and Madonna University in Livonia by submitting fraudulent undergraduate transcripts so that individuals, who paid a fee to the conspirators, would fraudulently obtain transfer credits from those institutions.

These credits were applied toward undergraduate degrees. Fraudulent transcripts were also submitted so that individuals would be accepted for enrollment in graduate programs. The indictment alleges that, in exchange for money, the conspirators submitted fraudulent undergraduate transcripts to medical schools located in the Caribbean and Belize on behalf of students who otherwise had insufficient undergraduate credits to enter medical school.

The indictment alleges that as a result of the defendants’ actions, otherwise unqualified students were admitted to medical school based on the submission of fraudulent undergraduate transcripts. In addition, the indictment alleges that defendants Nazeer Hamadneh and Abbas Obeid conspired to submit and submitted fraudulent documents on behalf of foreign students in order to obtain student visas. The indictment further alleges that defendants Nazeer Hamadneh and Majed Mamo tampered with witnesses in an effort to prevent witnesses from providing truthful information to law enforcement.

United States Attorney Terrence Berg said, "The whole of society is victimized by a scheme that allows unqualified persons to pay for phony transcripts and college credits that will get them into a graduate or medical school where they do not belong. Of greater concern is any scheme that permits student visas to be obtained under false pretenses. We will be vigilant to protect against the abuses demonstrated in this case."

"Individuals who buy and sell fraudulent college credits not only cheat the educational system; but when used for medical school admissions may endanger public health. Additionally, this undermines the student visa program by allowing individuals into this country who fail to follow through on their obligation to continue their higher education," said Andrew G. Arena, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Detroit Field Office.

The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cathleen Corken.