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US officials made fake FB profiles to nab Indians

IANS  |  London 

Waking up from slumber, has said that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) violated its guidelines by creating fake profiles on its platform tied to the -- a sham institution that left over 600 students, 90 per cent of them Indians, in detention.

The profiles were allegedly created by the ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division, reported on Thursday.

"Law enforcement authorities, like everyone else, are required to use their real names on and we make this policy clear on our public-facing Law Enforcement Guidelines' page," a Facebook told the daily.

"Operating fake accounts is not allowed, and we will act on any violating accounts," the added. Facebook has removed the fake accounts.

The had a website as well as Facebook and accounts -- but did not have a campus or faculty.

About 600 foreign students had enrolled with the fake university floated by the US authorities under a sting operation. More than 80 per cent of these students were from the two Telugu states of and Telangana.

"In a network of suspicious Facebook accounts linked to the University of Farmington, the college's alleged president, 'AJ' Milani, liked the Michigan Jaguars sports club and had a 51-person friend list that was mostly people from South Asia," the report claimed.

"Carey Ferrante, who did not list any link to the school but had interactions with persons interested in it, posted three photos of herself that were actually stock photos and sent Facebook messages to at least one person," it added.

Each student had paid $20,000 to $25,000 to get enrolled in the fake university, which recruited students in 26 states across the US.

Confirming that 172 students have been arrested for civil immigration violations in the case, ICE's declined to comment on accounts.

The has also contacted the about its policy on fake accounts.

The US immigration officials kept 129 Indian students in "administrative detention" and arrested eight recruiters involved with the university.

The eight student recruiters were charged with participating in a conspiracy to help at least 600 "foreign citizens to illegally remain, re-enter and work in the US and actively recruited them to enroll in a fraudulent school as part of a 'pay to stay' scheme", according to the court documents.

Six of them were reported arrested in and one each in and

They collectively received $250,000 in cash and kickbacks to find students to attend the university, according to prosecutors.

At least 30 students from and Telangana returned from the US in February. They were those who were not detained or served notices by the US authorities in the "pay-to-stay" fake university scam.

The had issued a demarche to the asserting that the students "have been duped into enrolling in the 'university' (and) should be treated differently from those recruiters who duped them".



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, April 12 2019. 18:34 IST