Monday, November 13, 2006

USPTO and marriage fraud

The Washington Post noted:

In recent weeks, 19 of 22 people charged so far in the undercover investigation [of marriage fraud] have pleaded guilty in federal court in Alexandria, including bank tellers, car salesmen and health-care workers. Court testimony and interviews document how Ghanaian immigrants married U.S. citizens they had met the same day, then were coached on how to fool immigration inspectors, usually months later, into believing that the marriage was real. All they wanted, they said, was to stay in the United States.

The text includes:

One of the first to arrive was Samuel "Sam" Acquah. Born in Ghana in 1949, Acquah came to the United States on a student visa. He got a master's degree, a law degree from George Mason University and a $112,000-a-year job in the chemical engineering section of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office [USPTO] in Alexandria.

As more Ghanaians arrived, Acquah wanted to help them stay. Better yet, he thought, he could make money doing it by finding strangers to marry them quickly after their visas expired.

Informally, he named his business "the program." When a fellow Ghanaian called, Acquah would charge the immigrant $3,000 to $3,500. Two employees were Acquah's "contacts" and helped find U.S. citizens willing to get married for money. Acquah split the profit with his contact, who paid the U.S. citizen $500.

Acquah set up shop in his government office [ie, at the USPTO], using his government-owned fax machine to communicate about illicit marriages.

This was posted on Nov. 13, but, for some reason, did not appear on IPBiz. Separateley, IPBiz was inaccessible for more than one hour on Nov. 13.


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