Canadian Talent Consultant Charged in Alleged Actor Visa Scam

Actor Andrew Boryski was charged with multiple criminal counts for cheating aspiring actors out of thousands of dollars in an immigration visa scam, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office said Thursday in a press release.

The Saskatchewan native allegedly operated a Los Angeles-area immigration consulting business that sought O-1 visas on behalf of aspiring foreign actors. He’s charged with 32 misdemeanor counts, including three counts of grand theft, one count of practicing law without a license, and 28 counts of violating provisions of the Immigration Consultant Act. If convicted, Boryski could face up to one year in jail for each count, or 32 years.

The O-1 visa is intended for established entertainment professionals with work pending in the United States – not for newcomers to the business without actual employment, as was the case with Boryski’s alleged victims.

PHOTOS: Top 10 Legal Disclaimers in Hollywood

“We will hold accountable charlatans who pray upon the career aspirations of others,” said City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. “People who come to Los Angeles to work must be aware that it is illegal for immigration consultants to provide legal advice. Before paying them a penny, they should contact the appropriate agency and verify the consultant’s credentials.”

Boryski, 26, who now resides in Los Angeles according to the press release, was arrested Wednesday by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) at Los Angeles International Airport as he prepared to board a flight bound for Canada.

An IMDb listing that appears to be for Boryski lists a dozen credits for roles such as Waiter, Bar Patron and Delivery Boy, many uncredited. A resume on the site Now Casting includes several other credits and a variety of training. It was not possible to reach Boryski or any current representative.

STORY: Warner Bros. Wins Blockbuster Victory in Legal Battle for Superman

“We applaud the efforts of Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and Deputy City Attorney Mark Lambert to protect actors from unscrupulous business practices that attempt to separate them from their money,” said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White. “Performers from all jurisdictions should be able to pursue their dreams in the entertainment industry without fear of abuse and harm. SAG-AFTRA certainly welcomes the zero tolerance policy clearly demonstrated by the City Attorney’s Office in such cases.”

SAG-AFTRA General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said, "Immigration service scams can have devastating consequences for any performer. All performers should take  an active part in their own protection by practicing due diligence and getting educated about the rules and process for work visas.”

More information can be found on the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services website and the California Attorney General’s website.

STORY: Hollywood's 10 Most Gripping Legal Dramas of 2012

The investigation of Boryski involved multiple agencies. After receiving several complaints, the City Attorney’s Office sought HSI’s assistance. Coincidentally, HSI had also received a lead about Boryski’s possible involvement in immigration fraud from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (CIS) Office of Fraud Detection and National  Security (FDNS).

According to the City Attorney’s office, the  joint  investigation  revealed  Boryski advertised over the Internet and presented himself at actors’ seminars as an immigration consultant who could help aspiring foreign actors obtain a visa so they could find work in the United States entertainment industry. Three complaining foreign witnesses, two from Australia and one from Ireland, allege Boryski charged them approximately $5,000 each to assist them in procuring an O-1 visa.

STORY: Kevin Smith Addresses 'Clerks III,' Pot Legalization and His Dogs' Bowels (Video)

“This suspect, who’s an aspiring actor himself, has landed a role in a real life crime drama,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles.

HSI special agents allegedly determined Boryski never filed any paperwork on behalf of the victims and failed to follow through on repeated promises to refund the victims’ money. Investigators found Boryski allegedly did not file an immigration consultant bond with the Secretary of State, or comply with other regulations, and was not licensed to practice law in California.

HSI’s probe into Boryski’s activities is ongoing. Investigators believe there may be additional unidentified victims. Anyone with relevant information should contact ICE’s toll-free tip line at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or visit the ICE website. Tips may be reported anonymously.

Lambert is prosecuting the case.

Bookmark The Hollywood Reporter’s Labor Page for the most in-depth coverage of entertainment unions and guilds.


Twitter: @jhandel