Federal Indictment Charges Individuals With Long-Running Scheme To Help Applicants Fraudulently Obtain Massage Therapist Licenses
The defendants helped Chinese nationals in the United States unlawfully obtain work at massage parlors
DENVER – Two individuals who falsified education credentials and helped applicants cheat on tests to be massage license therapists were indicted by a federal grand jury and arrested, announced U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn and FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Dean Phillips. Yongbo Shen, a/k/a Kevin Shen, age 48, originally of China and currently from Massachusetts, appeared in U.S. District Court in Colorado, and is due back on June 6, 2019, for arraignment. Marla Daniels, age 50, of Oklahoma City was arrested in Oklahoma City and appeared in federal court there where she was released on bond. She is scheduled to make her initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Colorado on June 17, 2019.
Both defendants have been charged with 36 counts of wire fraud and aiding and abetting along with 1 count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. If convicted of wire fraud, each defendant could face up to 20 years in federal prison, and pay up to a $250,000 fine per count.
According to the indictment, between February 16, 2015 and March 3, 2018, defendants Shen and Daniels fraudulently obtained the Colorado state mandated certified test questions and answers. With the help of others, Shen then caused such materials to be translated from English to Chinese. Such packet essentially functioned as an unauthorized question and answer key -- a cheat sheet -- for the examination.
According to the indictment, as part of the scheme, Shen distributed the cheat sheet to multiple applicants in exchange for a fee. Applicants were seeking to pass the standardized test in an effort to obtain massage therapy licensure in Colorado, and at times other states. Cheat sheets allowed unqualified applicants to pass the test and provided applicants with an unfair competitive advantage over other persons taking the test.
As part of the scheme, Daniels and Shen also created and issued multiple bogus diplomas, which falsely certified that applicants graduated from the Majestic Massage Therapy school. Shen worked with Daniels to help create and falsify course transcripts that claimed the applicants completed required course work in massage therapy. Together, the false transcripts and bogus diplomas misrepresented that the applicants had successfully completed the requisite 500 hours of instruction and training from a massage therapy licensure program.
Shen submitted applications for massage therapy licenses to the State of Colorado Department of Regulatory Affairs on behalf of the applicants. In the course of submitting such applications, Shen falsely certified to the State that the information contained within the applications was true and correct, when in fact, Shen knew the applications contained false information regarding the applicants’ educational qualifications and satisfactory completion of examination requirements.
This case was investigated by the FBI Denver Division with substantial assistance from the FBI Kansas City Division, the FBI Oklahoma City Division, the Arvada Police Department, the Colorado State Patrol, the Wheat Ridge Police Department, Lakewood Police Department, Aurora Police Department and the Denver Police Department. The defendants are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Neff.
The charges contained in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.