Feds bust immigration scam that brought people to U.S. to beg for money

The cult-like Kingdom of Jesus Christ told the U.S. government it needed visas for people — often-times young children — to come to the U.S. to perform music.   But when they arrived, they were forced to turn over their passports and turned out on the streets to solicit money for the church.

“Defendants’ livelihood involved lying to immigration authorities to perpetrate a massive human-trafficking scheme over many years,” U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna said in court filings asking a judge to deny the three defendants bail.

They described a cult-like environment, being forced to sign commitment letters surrendering “attachments” to their family.

The church also took steps to prevent people leaving — including one former member who was accused by a current member of sexual abuse of a child, the FBI agent said in the affidavit. Other ex-members said they feared being beaten or killed.

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