Helaman Hansen, 64, of Elk Grove, was found guilty today by a federal jury for operating an elaborate adult-adoption fraud scheme that targeted undocumented aliens, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
After an 11-day trial, the jury found Hansen guilty of 12 counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, and two counts of encouraging and inducing illegal immigration for private financial gain.
According to evidence presented at trial, between October 2012 and January 2016, Hansen and others used various entities such as Americans Helping America (AHA) to sell memberships in what he called a “Migration Program.”
(Helaman Hansen, 63 of Elk Grove is accused of bilking hundreds of people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in an adult adoption scheme targeting undocumented immigrants. Courtesy of CBS Sacramento and YouTube)
A central feature of the program was the fraudulent claim that immigrant adults could achieve U.S. citizenship by being legally adopted by an American citizen and completing a list of additional tasks.
At first, memberships were sold for an annual fee of $150, but that fee gradually grew and eventually was as high as $10,000.
According to evidence presented at trial, although some victims completed the adoption stage of the “Migration Program,” not one person obtained citizenship.
As early as October 2012, Hansen had been informed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that aliens adopted after their 16th birthdays could not obtain citizenship in the manner Hansen was promoting.
Despite that notification, Hansen and others acting at his direction induced approximately 500 victims to pay more than $1 million to join the fraudulent program.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant U.S. Attorneys André M. Espinosa and Katherine T. Lydon are prosecuting the case.
Hansen is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. on August 3, 2017.
Hansen faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of mail fraud and wire fraud. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of encouraging and inducing illegal immigration for private financial gain.
The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.