Sunday, July 29, 2018

USCIS Efforts Lead to Guilty Convictions in Florida Marriage Fraud Ring

Release Date: July 27, 2018

Orlando, Fla.  – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) assisted in an investigation that led to a federal jury finding Valeriy Tsoy, a citizen of Kazakhstan, guilty of marriage fraud. The successful investigation also led to Zafar Bakhramovic Yadigarov, a citizen of Uzbekistan, pleaded guilty to marriage fraud and conspiracy to commit marriage fraud on July 23. Each faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. Tsoy’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 24, 2018. Yadigarov’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 10, 2018. Tsoy and Yadigarov were indicted on Aug. 30, 2017.

According to court documents, in October 2015, agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations worked with the Brevard County Clerk of the Court to investigate a significant surge in the number of aliens from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and other former Soviet countries fraudulently marrying U.S. citizens in Brevard County. The leader of the marriage fraud ring, Dennis Yakovlev, admitted to facilitating at least 50 sham marriages over an 18-month span. The foreign nationals, who were from Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China, India, Belarus, and Turkey, traveled to Brevard County from around the United States. Yakovlev claimed that he was typically paid $1,000 to $2,000 per sham marriage and that the American citizens were paid between $10,000 and $20,000 each. Many of the aliens who engaged in these marriages initially entered the country on student visas, but later fell out of legal status. Nine individuals, including Tsoy and Yadigarov, have been convicted of marriage fraud charges during the course of this investigation.

The testimony and evidence in Tsoy’s trial indicated that Tsoy was living in Brooklyn, New York, on an expired visa in 2015. In an effort to gain permanent residence in the United States, he sought out the services of Yakovlev, a fraudulent wedding facilitator. Tsoy then traveled to Brevard County to marry U.S. citizen April Moore. In exchange for the marriage and the filing of immigration documents, Tsoy paid Yakovlev, Moore, and a recruiter approximately $10,000. Tsoy spent a few hours with Moore before marrying her on July 6, 2015, at the courthouse in Titusville, Florida. 

According to court documents, Yadigarov traveled to Brevard County while living on a temporary student visa in Brooklyn in 2015 to meet with Yakovlev and a U.S. citizen wife-to-be Meghan Toole. Shortly thereafter, Yadigarov married Toole and returned to Brooklyn. Yadigarov and Toole filed immigration paperwork in an effort to secure his legal permanent residence.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Enforcement and Removal Operations, USCIS’ Fraud Detection and National Security division, and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Brevard County Clerk of the Court. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Bayliss, on assignment from the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, ICE, prosecuted the case with Assistant United States Attorney Ilianys Rivera Miranda.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from the USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security group in Orlando, and the USCIS Asylum Office in Miami. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.

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