DOCUMENT: Internet, Crime

Craigslist Marriage Scheme Busted

Feds: Russian woman used site to recruit, pay a sham husband

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Craigslist Marriage Scheme Busted

NOVEMBER 29--A female Russian national used Craigslist to arrange a sham 'green card marriage' with a Disneyland worker whose illegal dowry consisted entirely of a leased 2006 Ford Mustang, investigators charge. Federal agents today arrested Yuliya Kalinina, 25, for allegedly hatching the scheme, which she began advertising in late-2005 on the Internet's leading classifed ads site.

According to a criminal complaint unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Kalinina's various Craigslist posts sought a 'business marriage' or 'Green Card Marriage' in return for a total of $15,000. The proposed union, Kalinina noted, was a 'strictly platonic business offer, sex not involved.'

Prosecutors say Benjamin Adams, then a Disneyland employee, answered Kalinina's ad and subsequently married her in early-2006. According to the complaint, Adams, 30, told Kalinina that he had bad credit and needed a new car. She agreed to Adams's suggestion that she 'lease him a new automobile as payment for entering the marriage fraud scheme.'

Ten weeks after the couple's nuptials, Adams and Kalinina filed immigrations forms seeking citizenship papers for the new bride (in an interview with federal agents, Kalinina said she hatched the marriage plot as a back-up plan in the event a pending asylum application was denied). Kalinina and Adams were wed by Kalinina's boyfriend, who told probers he became a minister 'simply by registering on an Internet site for ministers.'

If convicted of the felony marriage fraud rap, Kalinina and Adams--who will celebrate their second anniversary in February--each face a maximum of five years in prison. In a statement, an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement official said the case was the first one ICE has uncovered 'where the alleged perpetrators used the Internet to orchestrate the scheme.' (12 pages)