A study recently released by the nonprofit conservancy group Oceana reveals that one in three fish sold in markets and restaurants was mislabeled. What consumers thought they were purchasing turned out to be something else entirely 33% of the time.
- 59% of the fish that was labeled "tuna" sold at restaurants and stores was not tuna
- Sushi restaurants were far more likely to mislabel their fish than were grocery markets or traditional restaurants
- Snapper was the only fish that was more likely to be misrepresented than tuna: 87% of the time and was actually fish from six different species (rockfish, sea bass, Antarctic toothfish)
- 84% of samples labeled "white tuna" were escolar, an oily fish that can cause uncontrollable, prolonged anal leakages
- In New York, Washington DC, Chicago and Austin every single sushi restaurant sampled served mislabeled tuna
This is considered to be the largest seafood fraud investigation conducted in the world to date and the results found that what was served or sold was in many cases not what was advertised.
The study sampled seafood from 674 retail outlets in 21 states to determine if they were correctly labeled. Using DNA analysis the scientists found that the most popular (and expensive) species such as snapper and tuna were the most likely to be misrepresented (87 and 59% of the time respectively). Although that should not be a surprise given the profit motive for both restaurants and markets, what was most disturbing was that most of the fraud occurred where one would least expect: in sushi restaurants.
The fraud was especially prevalent in Southern California where 52% of the samples taken were mislabeled. Other cities such as Boston, Houston and Austin came in a close second with almost half of the fish tested being other than advertised, but the misrepresentation and mislabeling were prevalent across the nation.
Perhaps the most disappointing finding was that where one would have expected the least amount of misrepresentation to occur, in sushi restaurants overseen by knowledgeable chefs, the exact opposite was found, the highest level of intentional fraud.
The DNA testing revealed that sushi restaurants mislabeled their fish 74% of the time, and oily escolar or "butter fish", a fish which if over 6 oz. is consumed could lead to explosive gastrointestinal disorders, was substituted 84% of the time for "white tuna".
What does this have to do with EB-5 visa offerings? The analogy for the investors is that what is often presented by the issuers and EB-5 consultants or "experts" may not truly represent the risks involved in the job creation or project development when greed is the motive, fraud and deception the vehicles.
Misrepresentation and lack of material disclosure of the risks contained in the offering by issuers, finders and promoters in the development of the project is unfortunately a daily occurrence in the world of EB5 marketing. The results in those who consume these promises and assurances without verifying theunrealistic claims being made by these agents and "finders" could unfortunately be remorse, disappointment and loss of both residency and capital.
Investors who turn to those that they most depend on to help guide them, their immigration attorneys, may be the most disappointed of all when they find that those they thought they could trust actually represent the seller (the developers, Regional Centers and Chinese agencies) who dictate that they do not ask too many (or any) questions regarding the credibility or feasibility of the project to create jobs or return the investment at term.
The philosophy appears to be that if the consumers don't know the difference, then what does it matter? Just in case, however, I have a disclaimer that says I only file the paperwork, I am not paid to look after your interests.
Should the client get sick after eating the tainted fish, the chef then says "Hey, I had no idea that fish was mislabeled but it was not my fault, I just work here. I am not the one who bought the fish, I just prepare what I am told to serve."
I wonder how that defense will work should the attorneys be implicated in relief actions for issues related to dual representation and lack of due care, even where the potential conflicts of interest and compensation agreements were disclosed to the clients? Would the investor even understand the legal language contained in these disclaimers or are the simply relying on their attorney to keep them safe and informed of the risks involved?
The deception was not limited to investors, however. In the aftermath of the IRCTC debacle it was discovered that many Chinese migration agents routinely held seminars paid for by other Regional Centers only to later convince their clients, after the newbie Center principals had left back to America, that the project that they were presented in the seminar was "not appropriate" and were guided into the higher commission paying Chicago Convention Center or other deals with longer standing and better paying Centers whose monthly quotas they had to fill.
This practice is extremely common as the agents will use the newer, eager Center to pay for the lavish ceremony as "bait", perhaps give them one or two investors, and then switch the bulk of their clients into the project paying the highest commission in the market. I propose naming that tactic the "Escolar" as the effect on the duped Centers and investors is essentially the same.
To put this into context and to change a noun into a verb, if you are a new Center or developer and you come back later this spring from China having spent a lot of time and money to get just a handful of investors, you have been"escolard". If you are an investor and your immigration attorney keeps refering you to the same 5-6 Centers with assurances of "good track records" then you are being "escolarded".