An American woman from New Jersey has admitted in a federal court to entering a sham marriage with a Nigerian who was living in Pittsburgh so he could become a permanent resident, according to prosecutors.
Ajia Strauss, 28, of Newark, pleaded guilty in Pittsburgh federal court to conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Strauss and Monsuru Ogunbiyi, a citizen of Nigeria, married on June 3, 2016, in exchange for $1,500, according to court papers. The fake couple later submitted falsified documents and made untrue statements to Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Strauss and Ogunbiyi did other things to make themselves appear a couple — staging photographs, claiming to live together and opening a joint bank account, according to prosecutors.
He filed in December 2017 an application for permanent residency status. But the scheme apparently unraveled as authorities obtained text messages between the pair that showed a discussion about using Strauss’ address “and that they needed to learn more about each other,” according to the indictment.
Ogunbiyi pleaded guilty to the same offense in December and was sentenced to time served. He spent about two and a half months in jail, according to court records.
They were indicted in July.