Elk Grove businessman arrested for offering fake path to citizenship

Victims paid for phony adult adoption scheme, says FBI

An Elk Grove man who allegedly participated in a four-year scheme that entailed selling fake paths to citizenship now faces the possibility of 20 years in federal prison.

The February 11 arrest of Helaman Hansen, 63, occurred after a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging him with more than two dozen counts of conspiracy and fraud charges related to the organization Americans Helping America, which claimed that undocumented immigrant adults “could achieve U.S. citizenship by being legally adopted by an American citizen and completing a list of additional tasks,” an FBI release states.

Annual fees grew from $150 to as high as $10,000, the release adds.

Though some victims paid their way through the phony adoption program, none achieved actual citizenship. Hansen had apparently been told by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that what he was doing was not kosher under the law as early as October 2012. But he and his partners allegedly continued enrolling people, tallying approximately 500 new victims and more than $500,000 in fees until the business was raided last month, the release says.

Other than Helaman, 18 others were listed on a 2012 tax return as voting board members. The document listed no revenues or expenses. The return also showed checked boxes indicating tax-exempt nonprofit status, though it’s unclear whether AHA actually achieved that status.

AHA’s website was still functioning as of Monday and listed its full name as “Americans Helping America Chamber of Commerce.” It also presents itself as a nonprofit offering immigration integration services, including “Adult legal adoption.”

No one answered a call to the office Monday evening.