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Press Release

Criminal Charges Unsealed Against Iranian National for Immigration Fraud and Human Smuggling Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The Justice Department announced today the unsealing of an 11-count indictment charging an Iranian national with leading a visa fraud scheme to facilitate the illegal entry of individuals from Iran into the United States.

According to the indictment, from approximately September 2013 to October 2015, Hesam Fatehi Peykani, 38, allegedly organized, led, and worked with others in his Iranian-based smuggling network to facilitate the entry of Iranian citizens into the United States under false pretenses. Peykani allegedly carried out his scheme by charging Iranian citizens between $1,000 to $30,000 to submit or cause to be submitted tourist visa applications with false information on their behalf at a nearby U.S. consulate or embassy. The purportedly false information made the Iranian citizens appear to have strong ties to Iran to increase the likelihood of receiving a U.S. tourist visa, even when the applicants intended to remain in the United States permanently. Peykani allegedly coached the applicants to repeat the lies on their tourist visa application during their visa interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy. On one or more occasions, Peykani allegedly provided fraudulent documents to the Iranian citizens to support the lies in their visa application during their visa interview. Peykani is believed to reside in Sweden and remains at large

“Peykani allegedly exploited individuals and the U.S. immigration system through his visa scheme, trading on lies and fake documents to facilitate the illegal entry of Iranian citizens into the United States under false pretenses,” said Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We are committed to holding accountable those who seek personal monetary gain by compromising and undermining the integrity of the immigration process.”

“Hesam Fatehi Peykani is alleged to have fraudulently facilitated the entry of Iranian citizens into the United States when they were not entitled to otherwise do so – enriching himself in the process, by charging large fees for his services,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “As this case demonstrates, the department continues to identify, investigate, and prosecute those who seek to profit from conduct that undermines our system of legal immigration.”

“This case represents the finest efforts of cooperative law enforcement,” said Supervisory Special Agent Gregory Batman of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). “DSS pursued investigative leads which led to disrupting and dismantling human smuggling operations. These crimes threaten the national security of the United States and the trustworthiness of our visa process.”

“Hesam Fatehi Peykani is allegedly part of a larger Iranian smuggling network that purportedly lined their own pockets by cheating Iranian citizens out of thousands of dollars and lying to the U.S. government,” said Special Agent in Charge Derek W. Gordon of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. Field Office. “They allegedly enabled Iranians to enter the U.S. under fictitious pretenses. HSI Washington cannot allow such breaches of security to happen without consequences. We are constantly looking to reinforce our nation’s security in order to provide safety for the American people.”

Peykani is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and commit visa fraud, visa fraud, conspiracy to encourage and induce an alien to come to the United States for profit, and encouraging and inducing an alien to come to the United States for profit. 

The case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, Criminal Fraud Investigations Branch, with assistance from HSI Washington D.C., and is supported by the Extraterritorial Criminal Travel Strike Force (ECT) program, a joint partnership between the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and HSI. The ECT program focuses on human smuggling networks that may present national security or public safety risks, or present grave humanitarian concerns. ECT has dedicated investigative, intelligence, and prosecutorial resources. ECT coordinates and receives assistance from other U.S. government agencies and foreign law enforcement authorities.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Raizza K. Ty and Trial Attorney Clayton O’Connor of the Justice Department’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated May 8, 2023

Human Smuggling