East Providence woman charged with visa fraud, aggravated identity theft

PROVIDENCE – An East Providence woman has been charged with visa fraud and aggravated identity theft for allegedly arranging eight Colombian vallenato musicians to illegally obtain work visas, U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Zachary A. Cunha announced Wednesday. 

Yaneth Yanitza Caicedo Grandos, operator of Tu Voz Es Musica, is accused of creating and providing false itinerary information on work visa applications to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to allow the musicians to work and perform in the U.S. Each application included contracts on letterhead from Grandos’ agency and described agreements it had with venues in seven states, including Rhode Island. 

A U.S. Homeland Security review of the submitted documents found several discrepancies, including similar-looking signatures on six contracts with five different venues, according to court doccuments. It is alleged that venue managers/owners whose names and signatures appear on the contracts did not authorize nor endorse the information, and that venue operators confirmed that the vallenato musicians had not performed nor were scheduled to perform at their respective venues. 

The matter also drew the attention of federal authorities when an East Providence resident provided information that Caicedo Grandos restricted the movements of the Colombian musicians, forced them to sleep on the floor of an apartment from which they have since been evicted, attempted to confiscate their passports, and threatened them with immigration consequences. 

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Caicedo Grandos appeared before U.S. District Court Magistrate Lincoln D. Almond on Tuesday and was released on unsecured bond. 

The work visas issued to the eight vallenato musicians have been revoked by the U.S. Department of State.