Elk Grove Man Get 20 Years For 'Americans Helping Americans' Immigration Fraud Scheme

Helaman Hansen. |  December 16, 2017 |   An Elk Grove man was sentenced to 20 years in prison in U.S District Court in Sacramento...

Helaman Hansen. | 

December 16, 2017 |  

An Elk Grove man was sentenced to 20 years in prison in U.S District Court in Sacramento yesterday for his role in an immigration fraud scheme the bilked over $1 million from victims.

Helaman Hansen, 65, of Elk Grove, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. for operating an elaborate adult-adoption fraud scheme that targeted undocumented aliens. Hansen was also ordered to pay $576,264 in restitution.
On May 9, 2017, after an 11-day trial, a federal jury found Hansen guilty of 12 counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, and two counts of encouraging and inducing illegal immigration for private financial gain.
Evidence presented at trial showed that between October 2012 and January 2016, Hansen and others used various entities such as Americans Helping America (AHA) to sell memberships in what he called a “Migration Program.” A central feature of the program was the fraudulent claim that immigrant adults could achieve U.S. citizenship by being legally adopted by an American citizen and completing a list of additional tasks. 
Initially memberships were sold to victims for an annual fee of $150, but that fee grew and eventually was as high as $10,000. Although some victims completed the adoption stage of the “Migration Program,” not one victim obtained citizenship. 
Even as the scheme started  Hansen had been informed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that aliens adopted after their 16th birthday could not obtain citizenship in the manner Hansen was promoting. Despite that notification, Hansen and others acting at his direction induced approximately 500 victims to pay more than $1 million to join the fraudulent program.
“The FBI is committed to identifying and investigating fraud, especially when such crimes prey upon the most vulnerable people in our community. Legitimate pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants exist but adult adoption is not one of them," Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Sacramento Field Office said. "Unfortunately, Hansen knowingly accepted funds for adult adoption processes despite being informed that such would not aid his victims with obtaining citizenship,” 
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant U.S. Attorneys André M. Espinosa and Katherine T. Lydon prosecuted the case.

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