Advertisement

Unsealed federal search warrant reveals details about alleged visa-for-cash scheme

(WDBJ)
Published: May. 24, 2016 at 12:20 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

More details are out about an elaborate alleged plan to take money from Indian immigrants for fraudulent work visas. The U.S. Department of Labor and the state of Virginia thought they were coming to Danville to work for a company called EcomNets but federal agents say once they came to America, they went elsewhere.

Terell Jones was the infrastructure director for EcomNets, a Danville-based computer and data storage company. He was interviewed by special agents with the Department of Labor's Inspector General about the alleged scheme. He said no foreign workers ever set foot in a Green Technology Center that EcomNets operated on Cane Creek Boulevard, according to an unsealed affidavit from Agent Robert Ernest.

In late April, a federal grand jury ordered the seizure of the property east of Danville and charged the husband and wife who owned the company for fraud, money laundering and lying on forms for federal grants.

Raj Kosuri is accused of using EcomNets and other businesses as shells in a scheme to get 800 foreign IT workers into America on fraudulent H-1B visas. His wife and four others are also charged in an indictment with more than twenty individual counts.

The company was supposed to create 160 jobs in the Danville area but the small number of employees actually worked in Sterling, Virginia. In his affidavit to search a Main Street office in Danville, Ernest said Kosuri and his wife, Smriti Jharia, conspired in 2014 to lie to the Small Business Association to obtain Historically Underutilized Business Zone, or HUBZone, certification. The HUBZone program was set up in 1997 as a way for businesses in economically depressed areas to get preference for federal contracts. At least 35 percent of a company's workforce must live in the immediate area. Prosecutors now claim Kosuri got nearly $200,000 in contracts and a loan because of that HUBZone certification.

Ernest also wrote that Kosuri posed as a "Sam Bose" on more than 100 H-1B visa applications for foreign workers. "Bose" was set up to be a human resources manager for United Software Solutions but "no evidence has been found to support the existence of 'Sam Bose,' let alone the employment of any such person by the [EcomNets,] Ernest said.

The grand jury alleges Kosuri also withheld tax information for the workers that came over on the work visas, demanded processing fees, and sent money back to accounts in India. In addition to the property east of Danville, more than $20 million was seized from Kosuri's enterprise.