A Monrovia man has been sentenced to federal prison on Monday after earning millions through a fraudulent college admissions and student visa scheme.
Through ghostwritten essays, bogus transcripts and fake tests, 35-year-old Yi Chen, also known as “Brian Chen,” helped wealthy foreigners gain admission to U.S. colleges over the past few years.
Chen has been sentenced by a U.S. District Judge to four years in prison. He has been ordered to pay a fine of $400,000 and must forfeit $50,000 of his earnings from the scheme.
Chen was the CEO and owner of two “educational consulting” companies in Alhambra and Arcadia named Prime U.S. International and MS Education.
The companies offered “guaranteed admission” to a college that would lead to an F-1 student visa being issued. Applicants were charged thousands of dollars for the program.
To gain college admission, the company prepared fraudulent or altered transcripts while hiring impersonators to take standardized tests for applicants, court documents say.
Once the applicant was accepted, an accompanying student visa would be issued.
From June 2015 to February 2021, authorities say Chen made millions of dollars through his admissions scheme. He controlled seven bank accounts that received more than $15 million in deposits between 2016 and 2020, officials said.
Chen has been in federal custody since March 2021. He has been linked to a “group of imposter test-takers who were the subject of an earlier indictment that outlined how they used fake Chinese passports to take TOEFL exams on behalf of foreigners seeking college admissions and student visas.”