SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Helaman Hansen, 65, of Elk Grove, was sentenced today to 20 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. for operating an elaborate adult-adoption fraud scheme that targeted undocumented aliens, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. Judge England also ordered Hansen to pay $576,264 in restitution.
On May 9, 2017, after an 11-day trial, a federal jury found Hansen guilty of 12 counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, and two counts of encouraging and inducing illegal immigration for private financial gain.
According to evidence presented at trial, between October 2012 and January 2016, Hansen and others used various entities such as Americans Helping America (AHA) to sell memberships in what he called a “Migration Program.” A central feature of the program was the fraudulent claim that immigrant adults could achieve U.S. citizenship by being legally adopted by an American citizen and completing a list of additional tasks. At first, memberships were sold for an annual fee of $150, but that fee grew and eventually was as high as $10,000.
Although some victims completed the adoption stage of the “Migration Program,” not one person obtained citizenship. As early as October 2012, Hansen had been informed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that aliens adopted after their 16th birthday could not obtain citizenship in the manner Hansen was promoting. Despite that notification, Hansen and others acting at his direction induced approximately 500 victims to pay more than $1 million to join the fraudulent program.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant U.S. Attorneys André M. Espinosa and Katherine T. Lydon prosecuted the case.
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