Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

Appeals court rules students can sue U.S. over fake university set up by ICE

By 37ci3 Jul4,2024



A federal appeals court last week overturned a lower court ruling that dismissed a defrauded student’s lawsuit by a fake university Court documents filed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement show.

The Decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit June 25 opens the door for Teja Ravi and others to file a 2015 lawsuit over a fake college set up by ICE and advertised online.

The fictional Farmington University, which was part of a covert operation, was made public in 2019. when eight people were charged in Michigan on charges of visa fraud and “alien harboring for profit.”

The operation was intended to target student visa fraud, but the university provided no classes, no curriculum and no teachers, according to court documents.

According to the lawsuit, Ravi was one of those duped into applying to a fake school and never paid back the tuition.

The Department of Homeland Security, of which ICE is a part, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night about the allegations in the lawsuit or the appeals court ruling.

“The government’s operation was eventually exposed, but the government neither provided paid tuition nor reimbursed Mr. Ravi,” the appeals court wrote in its opinion.

In 2018, Ravi, an Indian national living in Houston when he applied, filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of himself and all other students, alleging breach of contract.

Ravi said in the lawsuit that he paid $12,500 in tuition fees to a higher education institution that he considered legitimate. He said he even received emails from people posing as university officials, giving it an air of legitimacy.

Two other prospective students named in the lawsuit paid $10,000 and $15,000 in tuition, respectively, according to the filing.

In March, a lower court judge dismissed Ravi’s lawsuit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

The appellate court overturned that verdict and sent the case back.

It relied on case law and precedent to answer whether the government is bound by an agreement similar to contracts created by private parties in the performance of a sovereign function such as criminal investigation and prosecution.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, shut down the fake school in 2019.

ICE admitted the school was badand said the eight defendants charged in the investigation conspired to recruit people as described by an ICE official. 2020 statement such as “illegal paid stay fraud”.

Ravi, who has not been charged, was hoping to earn a master’s degree in information technology in 2018, a year before the school was revealed to be a sham, the federal appeals court wrote in the ruling.

After the fake school was exposed, Ravi left the United States and returned to India, court documents said.

An attorney for Ravi, who is involved in the civil suit, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night.

The eight people charged in the conspiracy case were accused of illegally helping hundreds of foreign nationals stay and work in the United States by signing up for a fake ICE school.

In 2020, they were sentenced to 6 months to 2 years in prison. US Attorneys Detroit office said at the time.



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By 37ci3

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