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Ashburn couple indicted in $20M visa fraud scheme

An Ashburn couple along with four co-conspirators were indicted yesterday in federal court for allegedly defrauding the government by applying for more than 800 illegal immigration benefits under the H-1B visa program that resulted in more than $20 million in profits.

Raju Kosuri, 44, and Smriti Jharia, 45, essentially built a visa-for-sale system, starting in 2008, but the “business,” according to court documents, ramped up in 2011.

Kosuri, according to court documents, set up a network of shell companies that he presented to immigration authorities as independent businesses in need of Indian workers, but which he in fact owned and controlled. Kosuri and his co-conspirators used these entities to file petitions for non-existent job vacancies at Kosuri’s data center in Danville. Kosuri is alleged to have required workers to pay their own visa processing fees as well as treating the beneficiaries as hourly contractors, all in violation of H-1B visa program rules. The scheme involves the forgery of numerous individuals’ signatures on visa petitions and exhibits without their knowledge.

The indictment also alleges that Kosuri and Jharia conspired with a consultant named Raimondo Piluso to defraud the Small Business Administration, by submitting fraudulent HUBZone applications. Kosuri, Jharia and Piluso are alleged to have hidden the true location, ownership and employees of a business called EcomNets Federal Solutions in order to obtain federal loan and contract preferences that generated $150,000 in loan proceeds and five contract awards.

Kosuri, Jharia and Piluso face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison if convicted. The other co-conspirators face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if convicted.

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