Elk Grove Man Accused Of Scamming Undocumented Immigrants With Adoption Scheme
February 11, 2016 11:20 PM
By Shirin Rajaee
ELK GROVE (CBS13) — An Elk Grove man is accused of scamming hundreds of undocumented immigrants by promising them a path to citizenship, but never delivering.
Investigators say Helaman Hansen, 63, told his victims they could be adopted by U.S. citizens and would become citizens themselves. His alleged victims span from Sacramento to Wisconsin and New York.
He marketed himself for the last four years as someone who is working to educate minorities and help those who need it most.
“It’s sad to see someone like this prey upon such a vulnerable segment of our community,” said FBI special agent Manny Alvarez.
Now, he’s facing a 13-count indictment from a federal grand jury for allegedly operating a fraudulent adult adoption program that targeted undocumented immigrants—easy targets for easy money, investigators said.
A year long investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security showed that Hansen had recruiters scouting for him in a number of states. Those recruiters would target people in churches and communities with a false promise of a path to citizenship.
Membership fees started at $150 and went up to $10,000.
“At least 500 illegal immigrants thought they were buying a path to citizenship and paid him at least a half-million dollars,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner.
While some victims were adopted, there is no legitimate path to citizenship through adult adoptions.
Investigators need more victims to come forward, and they stress that by doing so they will not be at risk of deportation.