A Palo Alto attorney is facing numerous fraud charges for allegedly creating fake employees to help her clients obtain benefits as part of a federal immigration program, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Jennifer Yang, 50, and her business partner, Daniel Wu, 54, of Las Vegas, were both indicted earlier this month on a host of charges, including conspiracy to commit fraud, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice. Investigators concluded that Yang and Wu created "fake employees" to receive benefits as part of the EB-5 visa program, which allows foreign individuals and their immediate members to get legal permanent residency in the United States by investing in a commercial enterprise.
The EB-5 program requires applicants to obtain permanent residency status if they invest at least $1 million -- or $500,000 in areas with low employment rates -- and if they create 10 or more jobs.
The news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of California states that between 2007 and 2016, the attorney and her partner had filed EB-5 visa petitions for at least seven investors who supplied them with at least $4 million for the stated purpose of investing in a commercial enterprise. Yang had reportedly identified herself as a legal specialist for people applying for the visa program, according to the news release.
Rather than using the money for commercial investments as stated, Yang and Wu allegedly created and submitted fraudulent records to deceive the government into issuing benefits on the basis of fake employees, according to the indictment.
In some cases, the information about the fake employees included personal identifying information about real individuals, who were not aware that their information is being used, according to the indictment. In addition, the defendants allegedly "created documents that misstated the true manner in which the investment monies were used, which in some cases was not for the new enterprises, but instead for the personal benefit of defendants."
"In this way, the superseding indictment alleges, defendants obtained benefits for clients based on jobs and businesses that did not, in fact, exist," the news release states.
In addition to facing charges of conspiracy to commit fraud mail and visa fraud and aggravated identify theft, Yang is also charged with two counts of money laundering, according to the news release.
Both Yang and Wu pleaded not guilty earlier this month and each was released on a $500,000 bond. A hearing to review their bond conditions is scheduled for Nov. 1.