Farmington University Scam: U.S. Officials Violated Guidelines with Fake Facebook Profiles, Says FBTop Stories

April 13, 2019 10:31
Farmington University Scam: U.S. Officials Violated Guidelines with Fake Facebook Profiles, Says FB

(Image source from: The New York Times)

Months after over 600 students, 90 percent among them being Indians, were arrested for visa fraud after the United States authorities set up a fake university under a sting operation, Facebook has said the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement violated its guidelines by creating fake profiles on its platform tied to the University of Farmington.

The Facebook profiles were allegedly created by the ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division, according to a report on Guardian.

"Law enforcement authorities, like everyone else, are required to use their real names on Facebook and we make this policy clear on our public-facing Law Enforcement Guidelines' page," a Facebook representative told the newspaper.

"Operating fake accounts is not allowed, and we will act on any violating accounts," the representative added. Facebook has removed the fake University of Farmington accounts.

Though the University of Farmington had no campus or faculty, it had a website as well as Facebook and Twitter accounts.

About 600 foreign students had enrolled with the fake university floated by the U.S. authorities. More than 80 percent of these students were from the two Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

"In a network of suspicious Facebook accounts linked to the University of Farmington, the college's alleged president, Ali 'AJ' Milani, liked the Michigan Jaguars sports club and had a 51-person friend list that was mostly people from South Asia," the report claimed.

"Carey Ferrante, who did not list any link to the school but had interactions with persons interested in it, posted three photos of herself that were actually stock photos and sent Facebook messages to at least one person," it added.

To get enrolled in the fake university, each student had paid around $20,000 to $25,000, which recruited students in 26 states across the United States.

At least 30 students from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana returned from the U.S. in February who were not detained or served notices by the U.S. authorities in the "pay-to-stay" fake university scam.

The External Affairs Ministry had issued a demarche to the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi claiming that the students "who have been duped into enrolling in the 'university' (and) should be treated differently from those recruiters who duped them".

By Sowmya Sangam

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