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U.S. Attorney’s Office Charges a Nigerian, who worked as a U.S. immigration officer, of Illegally Obtaining U.S. Citizenship

Modestuc Nwagubwu Ifemembi, who is charged under the false name of “Karl Nwabugwu Odike Ifemembi,” 48, worked for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for seven years – Ifemembi is charged with one count of unlawfully procuring U.S. citizenship under a false name.

While this headline sounds like a parody on Saturday Night Live, it rings true for Liberia’s Nwabudike and his allegedly false Liberian citizenship.

          Ifemembi first entered the United States in 2000 when he flew from France to Chicago with a British passport issued to another person but had been altered to display Ifemembi’s photograph. While immigration officials in Chicago caught Ifemembi – who admitted his fraudulent use of the U.K. passport – he ultimately was granted asylum after falsely claiming his real name was “Karlos Mourfy” and that he was a native of Sierra Leone.

          After being granted asylum, Ifemembi attended the University of California, Berkeley, which gave him a bachelor’s degree in 2004, and then obtained J.D. from the University of Oregon, School of Law. Then, in late 2010, “Karlos Mourfy” applied for U.S. citizenship and asked to change his name to Ifemembi – requests that were granted in May 2011. Two years later, in 2013, Ifemembi was hired by USCIS.

         All U.S. federal employees, especially those applying for a job with USCIS, must undergo an FBI reference check of former employers, coworkers, friends, neighbors, landlords, and schools, along with a review of credit, tax, and police records. During the investigation into Ifemembi, federal investigators traveled to Africa – including his hometown of Akuma, Nigeria – and searched his Orange County residence in 2019, obtaining evidence about his true identity, including baptism, school, and financial records, the affidavit states.

          The charge of unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison, and upon conviction, U.S. citizenship is automatically revoked.

          The investigation into Ifemembi is being conducted by the United States Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services – Office of Investigations, and the United States Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service (DSS).

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