March 10, 2010, - 7:00 pm

ICE Busts Middle Eastern Student Visa Fraud Ring

By Debbie Schlussel ****  bumped up from 03/10/10 @5:49 p.m.  ****

Last week, I told you about a student visa fraud ring run by two women out of their Florida Language Institute school, which was merely a front for illegal aliens to get into the country and disappear.


ICE Agents w/ Visa Fraud Perpetrator Eamonn Daniel Higgins


Student Visa Fraud Perpetrator Higgins Used These Fake Driver’s Licenses to Pose as Mid-East Muslims

The same goes for the operation run by Eamonn Daniel Higgins.  But he was far more clever.  Higgins was paid by Middle Easterners (read:  Muslims) to attend classes and take tests for these no-show illegal aliens and student visa defrauders. So sad to see how willing these people are to sell America out.

Kudos to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents that worked this investigation and and the local Northern California cops who discovered the clever scheme, which began not long after 9/11. ICE says it caught many of the visa fraud criminals. Of more than 100 who participated in the fraud, only 47 are still in America, and ICE arrested some of them. The question is, where are the rest of the 47 no-show Muslim visa fraud perpetrators who are still free and have disappeared into the great American abyss? Why did they come here and what are they up to?

An Orange County man surrendered to federal authorities Monday morning after being charged with conspiracy for allegedly orchestrating a visa fraud scheme involving dozens of foreign students enrolled at institutions throughout Southern California, including several junior colleges and three California State University campuses.

Foreign students from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Kuwait, Turkey, and Qatar allegedly paid thousands of dollars to the defendant and his associates to take college classes, exams and placement tests on their behalf so they could maintain their lawful immigration status as foreign students.

Eamonn Daniel Higgins, 46, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., appeared in U.S. District Court to answer to a criminal information accusing him of one count of conspiring to commit visa fraud. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Five years? Not enough. What he did is treasonous.

Monday morning as Higgins made his initial court appearance, ICE agents fanned out across Orange and Los Angeles counties, arresting 16 of the foreign students linked to the investigation. Of those, six were taken into custody on criminal charges for committing visa fraud. The remaining 10 individuals were arrested on administrative immigration violations and will be placed in removal proceedings. In addition, ICE agents encountered six other foreign students with ties to the case who were instructed to come in for further questioning.

Monday’s enforcement actions are the result of an eight-month investigation spearheaded by ICE, with substantial assistance provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Los Angeles Police Department. . . .

According to the charging document unsealed today, Higgins received up to $1,500 to complete final examinations and other classroom work for foreign students, and $1,000 for taking required English proficiency tests. Higgins allegedly recruited associates to take exams as well.

One of those people was a woman with blonde hair who posed as a Middle Eastern man, which might have been how the scheme was discovered.

The court document states that Higgins used personal identifying information provided by the foreign students to obtain counterfeit California driver’s licenses. Then the defendant and his associates, posing as the foreign students, allegedly took the tests and examinations and attended the classes on the students’ behalf. According to the court document, the conspiracy is believed to have begun in January 2002 and continued through mid-December of 2009.

In December 2009, ICE agents executed a federal search warrant at Higgins’ residence in Laguna Niguel. There, agents seized a computer, along with dozens of fraudulent California identification documents and numerous college exam documents. A forensic analysis of the computer and related evidence revealed more than 100 foreign students who may have participated in the fraud scheme. Of those, ICE determined 47 are still in the United States.


In one case, authorities said, a blond woman working for Higgins was allowed to take an exam using a fake ID that paired her photo with a man’s Arabic name.

Authorities have not said any of the clients were engaged in terrorist activity and have yet to determine their motives for hiring Higgins. . . . A federal magistrate allowed Higgins to go free on $5,000 bail.

Huh? This is a guy with fake IDs who impersonates other people . . . and he’s “not a flight risk”?!

E-mails discovered during the investigation indicated Higgins also attended classes for his clients. One e-mail exchange with a Saudi Arabian student named Mohammed Ali Alnuaim showed Alnuaim and several others were charged a total of more than $34,000 to have others take a full course load for them, according to a court affidavit. . . .

The investigation into Higgins began when police in Daly City in Northern California discovered seven fake driver’s licenses in a lost wallet, according to court papers. Each of the fake licenses featured a photo of Higgins’ nephew.

A search of law enforcement databases showed the names on the IDs matched students who had entered the country on student visas and studied in Southern California.

Glad they caught this. But there are plenty more like it. If we can’t control our borders and closely track who is here and actually going to class, maybe we shouldn’t have foreign students at all. So much downside. Very little, if any, upside.

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4 Responses

I hope the guy who was taking the classes at least passed them…

Think he earned a degree? Or did he have to play stupid like the people he was posing to be?

sueb on March 10, 2010 at 8:37 pm

The one fraud was taking place over a 7 year time span, from 2002 to 2009. And at what school were these exams taken? Did any of these fraud artists receive diplomas, degrees, as a consequence? Shouldn’t any credentials be revoked? (along with deporting the fraud artists — the 47 who still remain in the United States?) I think the arrest of Higgins should just be the beginning…and he deserves far more than a mere five years in jail.

J.S. on March 11, 2010 at 10:38 am

The other 47 will still be wandering around because ice is only allowed to catch a certain percentage. All blow – no show. Another dog-and-pony show in the bag.

ice is pathetic. give ’em bar room kudos all you want…they still suck!!!

IceNoMore on March 11, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Why is there no front view photo or mugshot of this guy?

KingSlav on March 11, 2010 at 12:56 pm

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