Three Administrators of Philippine Church Arrested in Immigration Fraud Case Related to Workers Brought to U.S. to Fundraise

          LOS ANGELES – Federal authorities arrested three top administrators of a Philippines-based church on federal charges of participating in an immigration fraud scheme that brought church members to the United States to work as fundraisers, and then arranged sham marriages and other illegal mechanisms to keep high-performing workers in the country.

          A federal criminal complaint alleges that representatives of the church the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (KOJC) obtained visas for church members to enter the U.S. by claiming, for example, they would be performing at musical events. But, once the church members arrived in the United States, they were required to surrender their passports and work long hours as “FTWs” (full-time workers, who were also called “miracle workers”), who solicited donations for a church non-profit called the Children’s Joy Foundation USA (CJF). While the workers raised funds by telling donors their money would benefit impoverished children in the Philippines, the complaint alleges that most or all of the money raised was used to finance KOJC operations and the church leader’s lavish lifestyle.

          The criminal complaint charges three defendants who are described as the main administrators of KOJC in the United States. They are:

Guia Cabactulan, 59, the top KOJC official in the United States who maintained direct communication with KOJC leadership in the Philippines;

Marissa Duenas, 41, who allegedly handled fraudulent immigration documents for KOJC workers and secured the passports immediately after workers entered the U.S.; and

Amanda Estopare, 48, who allegedly handled the financial aspects of the KOJC enterprise, including enforcing fundraising quotas for KOJC workers.

The KOJC workers were instructed to go to malls, college campuses, restaurants, and department stores throughout the U.S. to solicit donations for a church non-profit called the Children’s Joy Foundation USA, the government said. They told potential donors their money would benefit impoverished children living in the Philippines. However, federal authorities claim the foundation was used a front. The money, authorities said, was not used for humanitarian projects, but was instead funneled for the church’s expensive projects.

Bank records showed from 2014 to mid-2019, KOJC received approximately $20 million in cash from the workers’ fundraising efforts. An internal KJOC spreadsheet turned over to investigators showed the money would be used to pay for the construction of “Kingdome” stadium in the Philippines, the church’s multimedia programs, travel expenses for church leaders to attend conferences, and a special fund that would be sent to the church’s leader, televangelist Apollo Quiboloy as a gift for his birthday.

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