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Document and Benefit Fraud
02/07/2008

Russian who advertised for spouse on Craigslist convicted of marriage fraud

LOS ANGELES - A Russian national who married a man so she could stay in the United States has been convicted of federal charges related to the bogus marriage. The man had responded to her advertisement on Craigslist seeking a U.S. citizen spouse.

At the conclusion of a one-day bench trial yesterday, United States District Judge John F. Walter determined that Yuliya M. Kalinina, 25, of Marina Del Rey, was guilty of marriage fraud and aiding and abetting the making of false statements. The man she married - Benjamin C. Adams, 30, a U.S. citizen who resides in West Los Angeles - pleaded guilty last month to marriage fraud and making false statements.

The two were charged following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' Office of Fraud Detection and National Security.

Evidence presented at this week's trial showed that Kalinina came to the United States in 2003 on a visa that expired in October 2003. She posted 12 advertisements on Craigslist in late 2005 and early 2006. In her advertisements, Kalinina said she sought to marry a U.S. citizen for the purpose of obtaining permanent resident status. She offered her would-be spouse as much as $15,000, stating: "Green Card Marriage - Will pay $300/month Total $15,000" and "This is strictly platonic business offer, sex not involved. NOT required to live together."

In January 2006, Adams responded to Kalinina's advertisements on Craigslist and agreed to be part of the sham marriage. Approximately one month after their first email exchange, Kalinina and Adams were "married." Kalinina's live-in boyfriend, Dmitri Chavkerov, an Internet-ordained minister, conducted the ceremony. Kalinina later leased a new Ford Mustang for Adams.

A government witness testified that Kalinina proposed a marriage of convenience to him, but he refused, explaining to her that such a marriage would be illegal. The evidence at trial also showed Kalinina entered into another sham marriage in Las Vegas in early 2005, but that marriage was annulled about three months later.

Kalinina, who will be sentenced April 28, faces a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Adams also faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years when he is sentenced April 7.