Criminal Justice

California lawyer pleads guilty in $50M visa scam

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A lawyer pleaded guilty on Monday to an immigration scam in which she collected more than $50 million from Chinese investors and falsely claimed on visa applications that the money was being used for construction projects in a program designed to promote U.S. investment.

Victoria Chan of El Monte, California, pleaded guilty on Monday to charges that included conspiracy to commit visa fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and international money laundering, report the Associated Press, City News Service and the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

Chan returned some of the money to the investors and stole millions of dollars for high-priced properties and other purchases, according to the plea agreement. She collected the money through a company operated with her father called the California Investment Immigration Fund. Chan’s father has not been charged.

Chan had applied for green cards for the investors through the EB-5 visa program, which requires an investment of $1 million in a U.S. business or an investment of $500,000 in an economically distressed area, with the effect of creating 10 full-time U.S. jobs.

Dozens of the investors received green cards in the program, including some criminals on China’s “100 Most Wanted” list, prosecutors said.

The plea deal calls for a sentence of up to 45 years in prison. Chan also agreed forfeit eight properties worth nearly $25 million. A ninth property is also expected to be forfeited.

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