A Russian national living in Marina del Rey and a West Los Angeles man she wed last year were arrested November 30th by federal immigration officials for allegedly entering into a sham marriage so the woman could obtain documents allowing her to remain in the United States, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said.

Yuliya M. Kalinina, 25, of Marina del Rey, and Benjamin C. Adams, 30, were arrested at their respective residences by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, authorities said.

According to the criminal complaint charging the pair, Kalinina posted eight advertisements on the Web site Craigslist .com in late 2005 and early 2006. In her advertisements, Kalinina said she sought to marry a U.S. citizen for the purpose of obtaining permanent resident status, according to the complaint.

Kalinina allegedly offered her would-be spouse as much as $15,000, stating, according to the complaint, “Green Card Marriage — Will pay $300/month Total $15,000” and “This is strictly platonic business offer, sex not involved. NOT required to live together.”

In January last year, Adams responded to Kalinina’s advertisements on Craigslist and agreed to enter into the marriage with Kalinina, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials alleged. Approximately one month after their first e-mail exchange, Kalinina and Adams were married. Kalinina’s live-in boyfriend, an Internet-ordained minister, wedded the two defendants, and Kalinina later leased a new Ford Mustang for Adams, immigration officials said.

“For years, people have sought to use sham marriages to illegally gain immigration benefits, but this is the first case we’ve uncovered where the alleged perpetrators used the Internet to orchestrate the scheme,” said Robert Schoch, special agent in charge of investigations in Los Angeles for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office. “Marriage fraud and other types of immigration benefit fraud pose a serious threat to our national security and the integrity of our nation’s legal immigration system.

“As these arrests demonstrate, cyberspace offers no protection for those attempting to evade our laws.”

Dale Rubin, the attorney representing Kalinina, did not immediately return phone calls from The Argonaut seeking comment.

The charge of marriage fraud carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. The case is the result of an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services.

A Citizen and Immigration Services official received the original tip that led to the investigation and an officer with the agency’s Fraud Detection and National Security Program worked closely with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, starting in February last year, on the investigation.

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