ICE Created a Fake College and Is Accusing Students of Visa Fraud. Have They Been Entrapped?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Dec 06, 2019 | 0 Comments

Law enforcement officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) went to great lengths to investigate and charge international students with visa fraud. So far, in fact, that the defendants might be able to raise a strong entrapment defense.

ICE Creates Fake College to Lure International Students Into Visa Fraud

Around 250 international students had enrolled in the University of Farmington, a college in Michigan that was federally accredited and advertised itself as offering graduate-level STEM classes. By enrolling, international students stood to receive an F-1 student visa that would allow them to live in the U.S. while they pursued their education full-time.

The only problem was that the University of Farmington didn't exist. It was a fictional university created by law enforcement agents at ICE to lure international students into committing visa fraud. ICE agents created a website for the “college” and even managed to get a federal agency to accredit it and make it look legitimate. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) even listed the fake school on its online list of approved institutions for international students.

Undercover ICE agents then hired recruiters to solicit international students and convince them to come to their fake school. Many of those students actually transferred from real colleges.

How the Entrapment Defense Works

Entrapment is a legal defense to a criminal charge. It argues that police did not catch the defendant doing something illegal; they induced the defendant into doing it.

Rather than catching a criminal, police created one. Because of the police overreach, the entrapment defense argues, the defendant should not be held accountable for what happened.

In Pennsylvania, entrapment is actually written into the criminal code. 18 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 313 prohibits law enforcement from “inducing or encouraging” criminal activity by either:

  • Creating the false belief that the conduct is not illegal, or
  • Creating a substantial risk that the offense will be committed by “persons other than those who are ready to commit it”

Proving either of these elements is up to the defendant, though. They have to prove it by a preponderance of the evidence. If successful, the charges can be dropped or the jury should issue an acquittal.

In this case, the students accused of committing visa fraud have a stronger entrapment defense than most. While ICE officials have repeatedly claimed that the students who enrolled in the fake University of Farmington “should have known better,” and were aware that it was a “pay to stay scheme,” the fact that ICE got the fake school accredited by a federal agency cuts against a student's ability to figure it out.

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento

Joseph D. Lento is a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia who represents the accused. The entrapment defense is a crucial tool that he can use to help people who have been victimized by police overreach.

If you have been accused of a crime in Philadelphia, call his law office at (215) 535-5353 or contact him online for the legal help you need.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today!

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.