Feds: 3 Collected Millions in Fraudulent School Scheme

Michael Martinez and Paul Vercammen, CNN, March 11, 2015

Three area residents were arrested and charged Wednesday for allegedly operating four Southern California schools for Korean and Chinese students who never attended classes and lived in other states on student visas in a “pay-to-stay” scheme.

The three educators collected as much as $6 million in annual tuition from an enrollment of about 1,500 foreign students who were largely from South Korea and China, said federal prosecutors.

The arrests came after a federal grand jury indicted the three defendants Tuesday on charges of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, money laundering and other immigration offenses.


Hee Sun Shim, 51, of Beverly Hills, is the owner and manager and of the postsecondary schools and is charged with 13 counts of use or possession of an immigration document procured by fraud, authorities said.

The two other defendants are each charged with one count of that same offense: They are Hyung Chan Moon, also known as Steve Moon, 39, of Los Angeles who assisted in the operation and management of the schools; and Eun Young Choi, also known as Jamie Choi, 32, of Los Angeles, a former employee who also assisted in the operation and management of the school.

Shim, who also went by Leonard Shim and Leo Shim, is also charged with three counts of encouraging illegal residence, as well as two counts of money laundering, prosecutors said.


Three of the schools are in Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighborhood: Prodee University/Neo-America Language School; Walter Jay M.D. Institute, an Educational Center (WJMD); and the American College of Forensic Studies (ACFS), authorities said.

The fourth school is currently operating in Alhambra, California: Likie Fashion and Technology College, authorities said.


“What we’ve broken up is a pay-to-stay scheme,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of the Los Angeles office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“That’s a scheme where institutions purport to be schools, but are really not doing any education whatsoever,” he said.


Prodee University/Neo-America Language School was located on the fifth floor of a Los Angeles office tower near the Koreatown neighborhood, but Homeland Security Investigations agents said they found the school “abandoned” during their raid on Wednesday. The agents allowed CNN to attend the raid.

The school featured classrooms, administrative offices and a small library, but no one occupied the spaces.

In fact, the abandoned school brought to mind a movie set, filled with props and decorations, but no actors.

In one small room, a CD player serenaded empty desks with classical music. The tiny library featured USC and UCLA pennants. The television wasn’t even plugged in. One federal agent said many of the students listed on the school rolls were older, in their 30s, 40s and 50s.


Another document with the state bureau indicates Prodee had a 73% graduation rate in 2011 and a 60% rate in 2010.

But the indictment alleges that students actually lived Nevada, Texas, Washington state and Arizona.


The schools were authorized by the federal government to issue a document that certified a foreign student had been accepted to a school and would be attending classes full time in the United States, authorities said. The document, called a Form I-20, made a student eligible for a F-1 student visa.

In exchange for that form, students paid $1,800 tuition to enroll in one of the schools for six months, authorities said.

During their investigation, authorities interviewed 35 students, mainly from South Korea, and found none resided in Los Angeles, officials said.

An unannounced federal inspection of Prodee’s main site in 2011 found only one English class with three students, though the school listed an enrollment of 900 students for its two sites, prosecutors said.

On the same day, federal authorities also visited the American College of Forensic Studies found only one religion with one student, though the school claimed an enrollment of more than 300 foreign students, prosecutors said.


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  • It’s a start.

    Could taking down the Gulen cult and all its charter fool charter schools be far behind?

  • Biff_Maliboo

    Immigrants have an admirable dedication to lifelong learning. Setting up ‘drop-in’ classrooms ‘n such.

  • WR_the_realist

    The proprietors of those fake schools are being prosecuted. But I bet none of the immigrants who have paid to stay are being sent home.

    • IstvanIN

      Of course not, they’re victims, poor lambs.

    • evilsandmich

      It gets sorta complicated for East Asians. If their greatest aspiration is to bus dishes at their distant cousin’s restaurant then it probably isn’t a biggie, but any sort of professional job would be sketchy to acquire and keep with only an ancient student visa as proof. As well, many like to go home and come back, but without a legit visa it gets a quite a bit harder to come back in; they can’t hop to and fro the border like our neighbors to the south.

      Still, this sounds more like a cheapskate scam since these Asian’s could have parlayed that student visa into an I-20 by taking a lame night class at the local community college, but since they’d have to pay the “rack” rate and do the classes it would have been much more expensive.

      • HE2

        but without a legit visa it gets a quite a bit harder to come back in…

        No worries. Their Korean USA scam operatives will create nice, legal looking Visas for them.
        I am surprised they were caught. Asians are so sneakily good at this sort of thing.
        Black scammers are stupid and invariably caught. Not Asians.

        • evilsandmich

          Perhaps, but the last time I came back in all of that was handled electronically, so coming in with fake paper wouldn’t help much. Not too hard to get a student visa though, just ask the 911 terrorist pilots.

          • “I don’t need to learn how to land” should have been a major tip-off.

          • HE2

            Kamikaze revisited. No need to learn how to land.

          • HE2

            They come here with bogus CVs, graduate college degrees, to be sure they have the ability and means to create phony visas for those wishing to hit our shores, or those “students” already here who need additional papers.

      • I took welding classes at Pikes Peak Community College for far less than that. I received some discounts for being in-state and an ex-con. I didn’t push for disabled. It wound up being only a few hundred dollars. I spent more on books and personal equipment.

        • evilsandmich

          Yes, but not everyplace can do an I-20; and most (all?) of those that do are subsidized in some way by the government at some level (or all levels) so that unsubsidized rate can get pretty crazy compared to what we as Americans would be willing to spend.

          • I already pay property taxes on my home here, which funds that sort of thing, so my “subsidy” really only amounted to me getting my own money back.

  • SentryattheGate

    We, of the Western world, are like sheep amongst the wolves; we are so trusting, expecting others to be honest, that we make easy victims. Third Worlders realize this and take advantage!

    • phillyguy

      you are exactly right.. for the last 2000 years our European forefathers held the competitive edge against all others. today we lost that edge ,now the foreign hordes are taking advantage of us.

    • Ken Dometriosis .

      speak for yourself. I’m a racially-aware, socially-cognizant white man and I find a reason every day to get into a rage. WE, the people, are aware but our zionist occupied government doesn’t care what WE want or think. Their job is to destroy America from within, just like pre-WWII Germany and Russia.

  • pcmustgo

    Omg… thought it would be Blacks… but this makes sense

  • Weisheit77

    Why didn’t I think of this? I could use a quick million.

  • Atheist Realist

    Sounds like a Potemkin village.

  • LHathaway

    I didn’t read this story. Sorry. I read the first paragraph. I bet it makes the Asian students out to be the victims. Tell me I’m wrong.

    • They knew they weren’t really taking any classes. This makes them voluntary participants in a federal felony: i.e. accessories. If I was coughing up $1800 a semester, I would expect some genuine instruction.

      • Rhialto

        Accessories! Just like Soros would be guilty of RICO defined crimes for financing the riots at Ferguson.

        • InAFreeCountry

          If only.

  • Rhialto

    These hard working ambitious Korean-Americans are doing the job that the Nativist-Americans can’t/won’t do. Their prosecution is denial of all that makes America great and good.

  • Ken Dometriosis .

    the best way to deal with this sort of turd world problem is to shoot every last one of them.

  • archer

    Thank God for diversity, we just don’t have enough scammers and crooks of our own, so we should import them.

  • There have been a few documentary pieces and newspaper articles exposing sham colleges and universities here in the UK too.

    Like many other immigration situations, it can often be tied to money. I do believe that there is a bigger plot afoot, but I am similarly sure that the plot involves hundreds of routes which have their own legs and which can be founded and facilitated by “our own” and anybody to make that “quick buck”.

  • Bill Moore


    Its happening everywhere. The goofy folks that are running the USA set up strange parameters, and the intelligent people set up fake stuff to collect money.

    Last year, there was one house in (I believe) Florida, that was abandoned, but according to the paperwork, there were 250 people living in that house. They collected millions of dollars in refunds for fake income tax returns.

    Several years ago, my son wanted to start not raising pigs. He looked into it, and since we have several pieces of property, we could start not raising pigs on some of it. The piece of land that he wanted to do this on was only 9.76 acres, and the minimum size was ten acres.

    When we would get together (before we knew that we were .24 acres short), we would laugh about starting by not raising ten pigs the first year, and then maybe not raising about fifty pigs the next year, because the non-existent pigs would multiply.

    A farmer next door was not growing crops on his land, and made a bundle of money. He wasn’t actually a farmer, he was an engineer and lived fifty miles away and had no intention of growing crops on the land – its just another scam. He collected money for not growing crops.

    I think getting paid for not doing things is a fast-growing business.

    Bill Moore