H-1B fraud may cost you your car and ‘gorgeous contemporary’

Feds now use property forfeiture as a penalty in H-1B labor cases

security fraud

In an H-1B fraud case in Texas, the U.S. is using forfeiture laws to try and extract a heavy price from the defendants.

The government's complaint list of the items it's seeking through forfeiture includes a large, spacious house in Frisco, Texas, with a home movie theater, gym, large windows and soaring ceilings on a palm tree landscaped property.

The property, described as a "gorgeous contemporary" in a video real estate listing, may have been on the market in 2011-12 for nearly $2 million, according to Zillow.com. The property is now off the market, according to real estate listing services.

In 2013, the U.S. indicted the owners of Dibon Solutions of Carrollton, Texas, and several employees for H-1B visa fraud, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court of Texas in Dallas.

The trial was scheduled to begin this week, but will now take place sometime next year, according to the court spokeswoman. No reason was given for the postponement and efforts to reach the company were unsuccessful.

The scheme, outlined in the complaint, involved bringing in H-1B workers, placing them at third-party companies and then paying them only when they worked. The practice, called benching, is frequently cited in federal visa complaints.

The IT services firm could earn "a substantial profit margin" when a consultant was assigned to a project, but incur few costs "when a worker was without billable work," according to the federal complaint.

The government has used forfeiture laws in other H-1B cases. In 2011, it sent one man to prison for six months and imposed nearly $300,000 in forfeiture penalties in a New Jersey H-1B fraud case. In August, a California man forfeited $100,000 arising out of his H-1B visa fraud scheme.

In the Dibon Solutions case, the government is demanding that the five defendants, if convicted, forfeit "any vessel, vehicle, or aircraft," along with any property that's "derived from or is traceable to the proceeds obtained directly or indirectly from the commission of the offense."

An amended complaint, filed earlier this year, listed the defendants: two brothers, Atul Nanda and Jiten 'Jay' Nanda, who helped to create the firm; Siva Sugavanam, chief recruiter; Vivek Sharma, office manager; and Rohit Mehra, another recruiter.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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