PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Nimon Naphaeng, 36, a native and citizen of Thailand, who resided in Wakefield, R.I., was sentenced Monday to 27 months in federal prison for running an immigration fraud scheme that defrauded more than 320 individuals, most of them immigrants, of at least $400,000, and perhaps more than $518,000.
The scheme included the unauthorized filing of false asylum applications on behalf of individuals who did not request, nor authorize, the applications.
“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services does not tolerate immigration fraud of any kind,” said Susan Raufer, director of the USCIS Newark Asylum Office. “We are proud of our role in uncovering this fraud scheme and bringing the perpetrator to justice.”
At sentencing, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith ordered a provisional amount of restitution of $400,000. The final amount of restitution will be determined subject to additional victims being identified and additional court filings over the next 90 days. According to court documents already filed by the government, restitution in this matter may exceed $518,300. During the investigation, the government seized $285,789.31 from Naphaeng. The forfeited funds will be applied toward restitution for victims of Naphaeng’s crimes.
The government and the defense recommended to the court a sentence of 18 months incarceration. The U.S. Sentencing Guideline range of imprisonment in this matter is 27-33 months.
Naphaeng, who was arrested and ordered detained on February 22, 2015, faces deportation proceedings upon completion of his prison sentence.
Nimon Naphaeng’s sentence is announced by Acting United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch and Matthew J. Etre, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations for New England.
Naphaeng previously admitted to the court that from August 2014 through December 2015, for a fee of between approximately $1,500 and $2,500 per applicant, he filed false asylum applications, thereby securing the right of the applicant to remain in the United States. By doing so, applicants were eligible to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (“EAD card”) and as a result, further government benefits including a social security number, driver’s license, and if otherwise qualified, financial benefits.
Naphaeng admitted to the court that to execute the scheme, he advertised on the internet and in flyers posted in Thai restaurants around the United States that, in addition to helping with tax returns, he could obtain EAD cards for Thai nationals. Naphaeng admitted that he never told his clients that he would file asylum applications on their behalf in order to obtain the EAD card.
To execute the scheme, Naphaeng had applicants supply him with vital personal information including their name and date of birth, photographs, and a copy of the biographical page from their passport. He would then file a false asylum application without the knowledge of the applicant in order to obtain the promised documents.
Naphaeng pleaded guilty on February 6, 2017, to seven (7) counts of mail fraud and two (2) counts of visa fraud.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard W. Rose and Mary E. Rogers.
The matter was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the United States Attorney’s Office. Acting United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch thanks the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services – Fraud Detection National Security Asylum Office, Newark, N.J., and the Warwick, R.I., Police Department for their substantial assistance in the investigation of this matter.