Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Ex-candidate for governor of Querétaro accused of US $30mn fraud

Businessman and former Querétaro gubernatorial candidate Juan Carlos Martínez, 51, has been arrested in the United States for allegedly committing a US $30 million fraud and encouraging illegal immigration.

Martínez was taken into custody in Houston on Monday.

Martínez allegedly carried out the fraud through two of his companies: Mobile Coatings Management (MCM) and Uberwurx, a car repair and refurbishment company (known as RhinoPro in the U.S.). U.S. authorities say he marketed himself to potential investors as a way to get a coveted E-2 U.S. visa.

E-2 visas are designed to allow foreign entrepreneurs to work in the U.S. based on a substantial investment in a legitimate business.

Through Uberwurx, Martínez supplied E-2 visas to “investors” by selling them franchises and then giving them instructions on how to successfully apply for the visas. The investors obtained them ostensibly for the purpose of managing their Uberwurx franchises.

But in reality, Martínez was managing the franchises through his business, MCM. The arrangement left investors free to travel or live in the U.S. as they pleased. It is unclear whether the investors knew that their visas were fraudulently obtained.

However, Martínez did specifically instruct investors not to mention that their franchises were managed by MCM during the visa application process, U.S. authorities said.

Karina Hernández, a business associate of Martínez and part-owner of Texas Franchise and Business Consulting (TFBC), is also in custody. TFBC caters to Mexican nationals looking to start a business in the U.S.

“Martínez and Hernández perpetrated this scheme on at least 120 different investors between January 2017 and December 2021 with a loss of more than $30 million,” a U.S. Department of Justice statement said.

Both Martínez and Hernández are accused of four counts of wire fraud and four counts of inducing illegal immigration for private gain. If convicted, the pair face 20 years of prison time per count of wire fraud and 10 years per count of encouraging illegal immigration.

Mexico News Daily

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