On October 6, 2016, Eyal Katz, the owner of a mall kiosk business, pled guilty to a visa fraud and money laundering plot involving 140 foreign workers from Israel that earned $14 million over three years. See United States v. Gur, Case No. 4:16-cr-00017 (E.D. Va. 2016). According to the plea agreement, Katz, operating from an office in Tel Aviv, Israel, identified, recruited, and sent FNs from Israel to the United States onB-2visitorvisas. FNs on B-2 visas are not permitted to work in the United States. Once in this country, Katz employed these FNs at one of several U.S. business entities, known collectively as RASKO—a mall-based kiosk business in Virginia, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey through which they sold Dead Sea salt products. To facilitate this work, Katz and co-conspirators provided housing and transportation to the FNs.
Since 2011, the conspirators, led by Omer Gur in the United States and Katz in Israel, recruited over 140 FNs from Israel to work at the kiosks. From 2012 through 2014, RASKO received over $14 million through its kiosk-based sales. Several million dollars from these sales were then routed to Israel-based accounts, including accounts controlled by Katz, and spent on lodging, travel, kiosk rentals, and other expenses of the scheme. As part of the plea agreement, Katz faces up to 25 years in prison.
This case should serve as another reminder to employers of the potentially serious ramifications that can occur from deliberately circumventing the B-2 nonimmigrant classification by employing FNs admitted in that status in violation of the immigration laws.