Posted by Rachel Leigh - email
(FOX NEWS) - Investigators catch Arab students paying their way through United States universities.
A man is now accused of making thousands of dollars off of these students by pretending to be them and taking their college exams for them. But if these students weren't going to class, what were they doing in the country?
Fourty-six-year-old Daniel Higgins doesn't look like a Middle Eastern college student. But, for almost a decade, he posed as one -- charging, he says, hundreds of young Arabs up to $1,500 each to attend their classes and take their tests, so his customers' student visas would remain valid.
"Individuals would contact him, and he would obtain personal information from them, assume their identity, and obtain fraudulent ID on their behalf," said Jorge Guzman, Immigration and Custom Enforcement.
Immigration and Customs enforcement charged Higgins with conspiracy to commit immigration fraud. He pleaded not guilty.
Federal agents served multiple arrest warrants across southern California some of the Middle Easterners will be charged while others are deported. "We don't know the motive behind these individuals or what their intent was in coming to the United States. Obviously, it wasn't to attend school."
More than 100 students from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Lebanon, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates paid Higgins over a $1,000 to take math or English placement exams, final exams in classes, like marketing and management, and writing proficiency tests. Passing grades let the Arab internationals keep their student visas current, so they could remain in the U.S.
At one point, Higgins was so busy, he hired other Americans and got them fake IDs to get past university test monitors.
More than 220,000 foreign students now study in American universities, including about 15,000 from the Middle East. After 9/11, universities were supposed to tighten security procedures.