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Document and Benefit Fraud

Northern California woman faces multiple fraud charges

SAN JOSE, Calif. - A federal grand jury Thursday indicted a local immigration consultant on charges stemming from a three-year investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) into allegations she engaged in immigration, mail and tax fraud.

According to the indictment, Evelyn Sineneng-Smith, 62, of San Jose, Calif., counseled foreign nationals, most of whom entered the United States on visitor's visas from the Philippines, to apply for U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) certification so they could work in residential health care facilities.

Sineneng-Smith promoted the labor certification program as a way for foreign nationals to obtain employment-based visas and ultimately gain permanent residency, knowing that aliens who failed to file petitions with the DOL or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before April 30, 2001, or who did not meet the eligibility criteria, would not qualify for such visas. The ICE investigation revealed Sineneng-Smith was aware her clients had overstayed their visas and were working illegally at the health care facilities.

Sineneng-Smith also faces charges of filing false tax returns in 2002 and 2003. According to the indictment, she reported gross receipts for her immigration services for those years to be $749,020 and $883,758 respectively, when she knew the actual amount was much higher.

"Those who corrupt the integrity of our nation's legal immigration system must understand there are serious consequences for those actions," said Joseph Vincent, assistant special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in San Jose. "We will continue to work with our counterparts to investigate those who manipulate and exploit that system for their own personal financial gain."

Sineneng-Smith's initial appearance is scheduled for June 17. ICE was joined in this investigation by USCIS, the DOL Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, and the State of California's Employment Development Department.