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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

American Charged With Visa Scam

LOS ANGELES -- A Beverly Hills man has been arrested on charges that he used his English language schools as a front to get student visas for Russian prostitutes and other ineligible foreigners.

Behzad "Ben" Zaman, 50, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Iran, was arrested by federal customs agents Wednesday at the Concord English Language Center on Wilshire Boulevard near downtown.

On Tuesday, a grand jury indicted Zaman on 14 counts of fraud and misuse of visas, conspiracy and money laundering, according to a statement from federal officials. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 210 years in prison.

Zaman operated Concord and another school, the International College for English Studies, authorities said.

The schools claimed to have more than 1,000 students early this year but in fact could not physically hold so many, the statement said.

In fact, some of the "students" were people from Uzbekistan and Latvia who were ineligible for student visas, according to the indictment.

"Russian and Latvian women prostitutes were posing as English language students," alleged an affidavit for a search warrant.