An intricate scheme by a large group of Korean nationals to utilize fraudulent employment letters to work in the United States was foiled by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working in Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport. Senior CBP officials say the quick action by their officers protected significant employment opportunities for Americans in the Atlanta area during a difficult economic climate.
“This criminal network sought to exploit American companies and take jobs away from our hard working citizens,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan. “We are experiencing difficult economic times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and had CBP not acted, more Americans would have suffered economic hardship at the hands of this fraudulent group of Korean nationals. CBP remains vigilant in protecting our border, facilitating legitimate trade and travel, and protecting the economic security of the American people.”
Last week, CBP officers identified and refused entry to 12 passengers who arrived on a Korean Airlines (KE) flight from Incheon, Korea in possession of fraudulent employment letters with the sole purpose of working illegally at a construction company and battery plant in Georgia. The subjects interviewed by CBP officers revealed the passengers were allegedly going to be paid $6,000-$7,000 U.S. dollars for 2-3 months of work at the battery plant. The subjects in question presented personalized employment letters, later determined to be fraudulent, stating they had a specific skill set for specialized work.
CBP revoked an additional 25 Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) applications linked to the fraud scheme.
A few days later, CBP Atlanta identified and intercepted 21 more passengers arriving on another KE flight also with suspected fraudulent employment letters. Based on the additional information collected from travelers, CBP revoked an additional 18 ESTA applications linked to the fraud scheme. The 21 subjects were deemed inadmissible to the U.S. pursuant to the Visa Waiver Program and transported by CBP Atlanta to Love Joy Detention Center to await removal by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Yesterday, all 21 subjects were deported back to Seoul, Korea.
All 33 encountered passengers by CBP Atlanta were refused entry into the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.