15 August – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – A Taiwanese woman who orchestrated several immigration-related scams was sentenced today to 108 months in federal prison.
Amber Ming Ding, 56, was sentenced by United States District Judge Manuel Real, who also ordered the defendant to pay $795,000 in restitution to victims.
Ding, who operated several companies, ran several schemes related to immigration issues. In one fraud, she offered immigrants assistance in obtaining L-1 visas that are given to workers who are employed by subsidiaries of foreign companies. Ding and two co-conspirators – Chuang Ting and Bing Ying Shaw, both of whom are fugitives – filed fraudulent documents with immigration authorities claiming that a particular alien was working for a company that entitled the alien to a work visa. In most cases, the companies were non-existent or were no longer in business. As part of the scheme, Ding filed all manner of documents, including bogus income tax returns purportedly filed by the companies.
In the second scheme, Ding solicited people seeking residency status in the United States by promising them resident alien status and citizenship through a foreign investor program. Even though immigration rules required investments of at least $500,000 in companies that would generate jobs in low-income areas, Ding told her clients that they only needed to invest $120,000. Ding filed documents with immigration authorities that sought investor visas for clients, but not one of them received any immigration benefits. Furthermore, Ding diverted the money from those seeking the investor visas to companies she controlled. Ding spent the money and had to flee to Taiwan when investors began filing lawsuits.
The third scheme involved marriage fraud and was designed to obtain immigration status for Ding’s co-defendants, Ting and Shaw. Ting, who is Ding’s brother, and Shaw, who is Ding’s sister-in-law, submitted paperwork and made statements to immigration officials that they were married to United States citizens, which they were not.
All three defendants were named in a criminal complaint filed on August 11, 2003. Ting and Shaw were arrested in late September. Both were granted bond, and they fled the United States to Taiwan soon after being released. On September 30, 2003, Ding, after learning that she was facing federal charges, also fled the country for Taiwan. While in Taiwan, Ding obtained identity documents under a false name, but, while traveling through Hong King in June 2004, she was arrested when a United States Department of Homeland Security agent determined that she was actually Ding and was wanted in the United States. Ding was later extradited to the United States.
Ting and Shaw remain fugitives who are being sought by federal law enforcement authorities.
On December 6, 2004, Ding pleaded guilty the day before her scheduled trial. She pleaded guilty of conspiracy, seven counts of mail fraud, two counts of immigration fraud, and one count of money laundering.
This case was the product of a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and IRS-Criminal Investigation Division.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker