Fake US University Created to Dupe Students Leads to 250 Arrests

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As of late November, 250 students who studied at the University of Farmington in the United States, a fake university created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), have been arrested. 

The university was created by federal agents in 2015 and had enrolled 600 students over the period in which it was running. The institution was shut down in January meaning students who were in the US on student visas were consequently in violation of the conditions of their visas. Out of the university’s 8 recruiters who were criminally charged, 7 pleaded guilty. 

The official website for the University of Farmington. Image source: BBC News

The DHS designed an official website for the university, complete with layouts of class schedules, a few photos on their social media pages and even mentioned internship opportunities for local companies. However, students who studied at the fake institution received no lecture schedules, no homework or exams. Teaching staff were nonexistent. Those who worked for the institution were merely agents from the DHS.

In an explanation issued by the DHS, they affirmed that students who applied for the University of Farmington ‘100% knew’ it is only a guise for them to receive a student visa, and thus extend their time in America.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Helms said: “Their true intent could not be clearer.” He added:

“While ‘enrolled’ at the University, one hundred percent of the foreign citizen students never spent a single second in a classroom. If it were truly about obtaining an education, the University would not have been able to attract anyone, because it had no teachers, classes, or educational services.”

The official logo. Source: Detroit Free Press

The university marketed itself to potential students from India and advertised technology and computer science graduate programmes. According to the Free Press, 200 of the 250 individuals who were arrested left US soil, the rest were deported. 

Some students complained that they had been cheated by the government. They tried to figure out the issue by contacting the DHS but were unable to reach any conciliatory response.

Evan Gerstmann, a Political Science professor at Loyola Marymount University, argued that: “ICE put much effort into sorting the truly guilty from innocent students caught in ICE’s scheme.” This also raises the public concern for the future of international students wishing to study in US institutions. 

Immigration Lawyer Cory Lee who supports the students said: 

“For those students who recognized the issue and tried very hard to contact the school to transfer to another university are arrested by the police as well. The criminal record will be a trouble for students for their whole life.”

The social webpage of the University of Farmington has uploaded an announcement that the university has been closed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Main image source: The Epoch Times