NEW YORK — Two Indian American men are among three individuals arrested for defrauding people by posing as federal agents and promising them immigration status in the U.S. and duping the victims of $6 million under the scheme.

Hardev Panesar, 69, of California, and Rafael Hastie, 47, of Mexico, posed as officers of the Department of Homeland Security and promised that they could obtain immigration status for people in exchange for exorbitant fees.

Gurdev Singh, 56, of California, is also charged with assisting his conspirators in the fraudulent scheme. The three have been arrested and charged with 11 counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and false personation of an officer or employee of the U.S. The charges carry a total maximum penalty of about 50 years and $1 million dollars in fines.

According to a federal grand jury indictment, although Panesar and Hastie never worked at DHS, since at least 2014 they falsely claimed to be DHS agents and stated they had the authority to obtain lawful immigration documents and legal status for individuals who lacked such status in the U.S.

Panesar and Hastie also falsely claimed they had the power to stop deportation proceedings.

The defendants defrauded victims out of approximately $6 million from the scheme. Panesar, Hastie and Singh collected fees from victims under the guise that they would be able to provide immigration documents when in reality they had no authority to do so.

Instead, the defendants converted the proceeds from the scheme to their personal use and benefit. Panesar, Hastie, Singh and others have solicited and recruited victims across the U.S., including California and Indiana, and Mexico.

Panesar and Hastie convinced victims that they were agents, in part, because they showed fake agency credentials when meeting with the victims. The two also provided immigration applications to victims and took fingerprints supposedly for immigration forms.

They often demanded more money to speed up the process or guarantee the immigration documents by a certain date, the complaint against them said.

Panesar, Hastie, and Singh never delivered on their promise to provide immigration documents, despite collecting thousands of dollars from each of the more than 150 victims. 

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