Nigeria-born Modestus Nwagubwu Ifemembi who works for U.S. immigration services charged with duping U.S. immigration services by illegally obtaining U.S. citizenship under false name

A Nigeria-born federal immigration official in the United States whose real name is Modestus Nwagubwu Ifemembi has been charged with illegally obtaining a U.S. citizenship under the false name Karl Nwabugwu Odike Ifemembi. He was granted asylum under the name “Karlos Mourfy” from Sierra Leone before changing it to “Karl Nwabugwu Odike Ifemembi.”

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 immigration services officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was arrested on Wednesday in the state of Maryland on a federal charge that alleges he obtained U.S. citizenship under a false name.

Ifemembi, 48, who previously resided in Aliso Viejo, but relocated to Rockville, Maryland, last year, has worked for USCIS for seven years.

A criminal complaint unsealed on Wednesday alleged that Ifemembi made false statements on various government forms to obtain U.S. citizenship, as well as employment with USCIS.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

According to an affidavit in support of the complaint, Ifemembi first entered the United States in 2000 when he flew from France to Chicago with a British passport that had been 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, the affidavit states – 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 granted 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, according to the affidavit.

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.

Ifemembi made his initial appearance on Wednesday afternoon in United States District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Authorities said 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).

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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