A Rego Park woman was sentenced in Brooklyn federal court last week to just over two years imprisonment for running a visa fraud, identity theft and immigrant smuggling conspiracy that brought Armenian citizens in the the United States for profit.
Stella Boyadjian, 53, pleaded guilty in March 2019 to running a transnational network of co-conspirators in an elaborate scheme to bring Armenians into the country posing as folk dance performers to qualify for P-3 “Culturally Unique Artist” visas.
The P-3 nonimmigrant visa classification allows foreign nationals to temporarily travel to the U.S. to perform, teach or coach as artists or entertainers, under a program that is culturally unique.
Boyadjian, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Armenia, ran a Rego Park-based nonprofit organization called Big Apple Music Awards (BAMA) Foundation which she used to charge citizens of Armenia between $3,000 and $15,000 for the P-3 visas, a category often sought by legitimate Armenian performers.
Boyadjian and her associates in Armenia acquired fraudulent performer certificates and organized staged photo sessions where Armenian citizens wore traditional folk costumes. After being trained by Boyadjian and her conspirators on how to answer questions from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) visa adjudicators, the individuals then presented these certificates and photos to U.S. Consular officers during their visa interviews.
Once the Armenians entered the U.S., some would pay Boyadjian and her associates additional money to be included in another fraudulent petition asking for P-3 visa extensions. Some of the fake folk performers overstayed their visas and remained unlawfully in the United States.
The State Department’s Diplomatic Security Services (DSS) Criminal Fraud Investigations and Overseas Criminal Investigations Divisions investigated the case and DSS announced that Boyadjian was sentenced to 25 months in federal prison by U.S. Chief District Judge Margo K. Brodie.