Arizona Man Sentenced To Over Five Years In Prison For Fraudulent Citizenship Scheme Targeting Immigrants

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FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Justice Building is pictured

LAS VEGAS – A Mohave Valley, Ariz., resident was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro to five years and 10 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release for orchestrating a fraudulent adult adoption business scheme which promised U.S. citizenship in exchange for money. In addition to imprisonment, Thayer was ordered to pay $852,355 in restitution to his victims.

“This prison sentence should serve as a warning that taking advantage of vulnerable victims, regardless of citizenship status, will be investigated and prosecuted,” said U.S. Attorney Jason M. Frierson for the District of Nevada. “There is no price tag for U.S. citizenship. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI are committed to exposing criminal schemes and holding fraudsters seeking to capitalize on others accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

“This individual shamefully took advantage of trusting victims, who believed in the promise of U.S. citizenship, for his own financial gain,” said Special Agent in Charge Spencer L. Evans for the FBI. “This case should serve as a warning to others that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will remain steadfast in our efforts to dismantle criminal enterprises that strive to bypass our laws by deceptive and fraudulent means.”

After a seven-day trial in April 2022, Douglas Lee Thayer (70) was found guilty of two counts of mail fraud.

According to court documents and evidence at trial, in 2015 and 2016, Thayer operated U.S. Adult Adoption Services Inc. (USAAS), a business that promised its clients — who consisted mostly of Asian immigrants — U.S. citizenship in exchange for money. Thayer fraudulently represented to his clients that they would be adopted by U.S. citizens. This would supposedly allow the clients to obtain new birth certificates and, subsequently, obtain U.S. citizenship for themselves. USAAS collected at least $7,000 per client from at least 160 victims — many of whom borrowed money to pay Thayer. In total, Thayer received at least $852,355 in payments.

This case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Oliva prosecuted the case.

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