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Man pleads guilty to US student visa fraud

April 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Laguna Niguel man pleaded guilty in a visa fraud scheme that helped foreign students stay in the United States. Eamon Daniel Higgins, 46, admitted taking part in a visa fraud scheme that had proxies attend college classes and take tests for dozens of foreign students. Higgins, who was arrested last March, faces up to five years in federal prison when he is sentenced on August 9.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say Higgins was a central figure in the scheme that involved students from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Kuwait, Turkey and Qatar. Higgins charged up to $1,500 to hire people to take exams and do other classroom work for foreign students, and $1,000 to take mandatory English proficiency tests for them.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice said Higgins would use the students' IDs to get California driver's licenses. He and his associates would then pose as the students and take the exams.

Eight foreign students, suspected of being involved in the scheme, have been charged with visa fraud.

City News Service contributed to this story