Fraud Investigated Via Social Media in Citizenship, Marriage Cases

Fraud Investigated Via Social Media in Citizenship, Marriage Cases

You've heard it before. Be very careful what you post online. It could expose information you don't want others to see.

For immigrants going through the citizenship or marriage process, if they detect fraud - especially via social media - one strike, you're out.

We've heard of scammers who pretend they're certified to help immigrants through the citizenship process. But sometimes fraud is committed by the immigrants themselves.

One way authorities will investigate if they're telling the truth or not is through social media.

"I think what we are seeing should be a wake up call for people to be careful with what kind of information they put on their social media accounts," said Efren Olivares, Staff Attorney with the South Texas Civil Rights Project.

Just because you delete a post or a photo from Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, that doesn't mean it's gone forever.

"Some websites retain that information and it might be possible for others including immigration authorities to have access to information. Even the information that you have deleted from your social media accounts," said Olivares.

The government will get a hold of any information they need if they suspect fraud.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says if they believe a person is lying about their information, they turn the case over to the Fraud Detection and Security Department - a separate entity within USCIS. They're the ones who monitor social media.

"The stakes are very high when it comes to immigration relief and immigration proceedings. It's not worth it to jeopardize that for the sake of posting something on Facebook," said Olivares.

Immigration attorneys say be careful who you accept as a friend. Some will friend anyone, regardless if they know them or not.

"That might be one of the mistakes. You're accepting probably a government employee. Then he can go through all your personal information," said Attorney Paola Ledesma with the Ledesma Immigration Law Office in Lubbock.

Pretending to be married is one of the most common forms of fraud. Sometimes the truth is unveiled on social media.

"I have them come to my office, both of them. I can see how they interact, how their relationship is going. That way I can notice if something weird is going on," said Ledesma.

If you're caught committing fraud, you could be denied any further applications.