A federal grand jury indicted a New York City woman Tuesday for her alleged role in a student visa “pay to stay” scam uncovered after federal authorities set up a fake university.
Ting Xue faces one count of conspiracy and seven counts of visa fraud.
The bogus school, the University of Northern New Jersey, was set up by undercover agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Cranford, a small town about 15 miles outside New York City.
Xue, 28, a naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in Queens, allegedly used her consulting business to recruit foreign nationals to enroll in the school so they could fraudulently obtain or keep student or work visas.
She was one of 21 people charged in April with helping more than 1,000 foreigners get the bogus documents over a two-and-a-half-year period.
The school had no instructors, classes or degree programs, but its authentic-looking website promised “a high quality American education to students from around the world.” The site contained links to academic programs; a message from the “president,” a Dr. Steven Brunetti, PhD; and photos of young people sitting around a library table or consulting with a faculty member.
The U.S. attorney’s office says Xue and the others, as well as the foreigners, knew the university was bogus but didn’t know it was a sting operation. They allegedly paid the undercover agents running the school thousands of dollars to produce paperwork that made it look as if the foreigners were enrolled.
Most of the foreigners who benefited from the scam were from China and India and were already in the U.S. on student visas, federal prosecutors said in April.
An attorney listed for Xue didn’t return an email seeking comment Tuesday.