A California man was recently arrested and charged for allegedly running a seven-state immigrantion scam. He is accused of offering a pathway to citizenship through adult adoptions. This scam is believed to have victimized at least 500 immigrants.

According to a recent report, the accused collected approximately $500,000 from individuals who believed that he would be able to grant them citizenship through adoption. Adult adoptions are legal in the United States. They are typically used in cases in which disabled adults need care. However, these adoptions do not affect one’s legal immigrantion status.

This particular scheme started back in 2012 when the accused opened Americans Helping America Chamber of Commerce. Staff was hired and on hand to assist with the adoption processes, and he paid recruiters $1,500 for each immigrant they brought to him for help. His victims paid up to $10,000 each for the promise of citizenship through adoption — a process he allegedly told them would only take a year or two. The accused is not facing up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted on the immigrantion fraud charges.

This scam is certainly unique in that adult adoptions are possible, making this seem like a credible pathway to citizenship. However, immigrantion matters are never so simple and adoption into a family does not guarantee citizenship will be granted. Undocumented immigrants currently residing in California can take legitimate steps to applying for citizenship. This starts by seeking out the assistance of an experienced immigrantion attorney and filing the appropriate applications with any requested documentation.

Source: ABC News, “Feds Charge California Man in 7-State immigrantion Scam”, Don Thompson, Feb. 11, 2016