Raju Kosuri and Smriti Jharia, as well as 4 co-conspirators, have been indicted over multiple cases of fraud, including H-1B visa fraud. The couple ran a staffing firm, that ultimately acted as a “visa for sale” system. The scheme allegedly involved Kosuri creating shell companies that he owns and operates, of which faked the need for talented foreign workers. Through the alleged usage of fake signatures, fraudulent location, employee, and ownership data, Kosuri is alleged to have generated gross proceeds of $20 million or more throughout the operation of the scheme.
Kosuri is alleged to have hired the H-1B workers as hourly contractors, and required them to pay their own visa processing fees, both of which are a violation of H-1B rules. He is also alleged to have faked the signatures of numerous individuals on visa petitions, without their knowledge.
The indictment also alleges that the couple attempted to defraud the Small Business Administration’s HUBZone(Historically Underutilized Business Zone) program, with the assistance of a consultant named Raimondo Piluso. According to SBA.gov, HUBZone is a program that “helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities”. HUBZone has a very specific criteria for which businesses are eligible, which can be found here. By submitting fraudulent HUBZone applications, with incorrect location, ownership, and employee information, it falsely represented their eligibility for the benefits of the program. This resulted in them receiving $150,000 in federal loans and five contract awards.
If convicted, Raju Kosuri, Smriti Jharia, and Raimondo Piluso all face a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in prison. The other co-conspirators face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.