An Elk Grove man was arrested Thursday shortly after a federal grand jury indicted him for allegedly cheating undocumented immigrants who believed his false promise that they could secure legal status.
Helaman Hansen assured adult immigrants they could become U.S. citizens if they were adopted by American citizens and completed some additional tasks, said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner at a news conference following Hansen’s arrest.
At first, Wagner said, Hansen and his employees collected annual fees of $150 for each immigrant duped into believing adult adoption could gain them precious permanent status. As the scheme picked up steam, the fee grew to as high as $10,000.
“Adoption of adults is not a pathway to U.S. citizenship,” Wagner emphasized.
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Hansen and so-far-uncharged co-conspirators induced approximately 500 victims to relinquish more than $500,000 of hard-earned income in order to realize their dream of U.S. residency without fear of deportation, Wagner said.
According to court documents, between October 2012 and last month Hansen and others spread their empty promises in immigrant communities throughout California and in other states. Although some victims completed adoptions, not one of them achieved citizenship, the indictment says.
Hansen is charged in one count with a conspiracy and in 12 counts with fraud. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, but the sentence will ultimately be determined by a judge after considering applicable law and federal sentencing guidelines.
Wagner said the investigation of Hansen’s operation is ongoing.
Hansen, 63, is due to make his initial appearance in Sacramento federal court on Friday.
Denny Walsh: 916-321-1189