US Agents Create Fake School to Arrest Criminals

May 20, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. undercover / ˌʌn dərˈkʌv ər / (adj.) – referring to someone who is working in secret
Example: The police conducted an undercover investigation to collect information about the syndicate.

2. apprehend / ˌæp rɪˈhɛnd / (v.) – to arrest
Example: The police apprehended 10 people during the raid.

3. take down / teɪk daʊn / (phrasal v.) – to stop the operation of a website or webpage
Example: The site was taken down because its content was against the law.

4. initiate / ɪˈnɪʃ iˌeɪt / (v.) – to start or begin something
Example: It was the government who initiated the investigation of the matter.

5. fabricated / ˈfæb rɪˌkeɪ tɪd / (adj.) – describes something that was faked
Example: The criminals used fabricated documents to make their fake identities believable.


Read the text below.
Undercover agents in the United States created a fake university to apprehend people committing visa fraud.

Agents from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement set up a website for the University of Northern New Jersey—a school that never really existed. The website appeared legitimate and even contained information about the fake university’s programs and tuition fees.

The site served as a trap for people who use fake universities to help foreigners obtain US student visas. This undercover operation led to the arrest of 21 people who worked with the fake university’s staff with the intention of committing visa fraud. The perpetrators did not know that the university staff they were dealing with were actually undercover agents. The website was taken down in April, after the operation was completed.

According to Will Skaggs, a New Jersey attorney’s office spokesperson, it seems that those arrested had previous experience in this type of fraud, as they were the ones who initiated contact with the fake university’s staff.

For more than two years, the perpetrators used the name of the fake university to help 1,000 foreigners keep or obtain student visas. They also helped others obtain work visas using fake school records. The perpetrators paid the undercover agents thousands of dollars to put the university’s letterhead on fabricated documents.

Those who were arrested are currently facing criminal charges, which can cost them up to 10 years of imprisonment. Meanwhile, the foreigners who obtained visas through the scam will not be prosecuted, but they will be deported for knowingly participating in the scheme. According to Skaggs, many of these foreigners were originally students who studied in actual US schools but sought illegal ways to extend their stay.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Why do you think some people commit fraud to get US visas?
·         Is fraud also a common problem in your country? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What are the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad?
·         If given the chance to study overseas, where would you go and what would you study?

May 20, 2016