Immigration Fraud Dismantled in New York City

Immigration Fraud Dismantled in New York City

Southern District of New York has witnessed the dismantling of a sophisticated immigration fraud scheme perpetrated by an immigration law firm.

This fraud involved the use of false reports to take advantage of a program intended for victims of domestic violence, promising them lawful permanent residence in the United States.

The defendants in this case, immigration attorney Kofi Amankwaa and his son Kofi Amankwaa Jr. were arrested and charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and immigration fraud.

Immigration Fraud Scheme

According to court documents, the defendants carried out an immigration fraud scheme involving the exploitation of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This law allows non-citizen victims of domestic abuse to seek lawful permanent residency status in the United States.

However, the defendants falsely claimed that their clients were victims of domestic abuse for financial gain. They filed fraudulent VAWA Form I-360 petitions, falsely stating that the clients had been abused by their U.S. citizen children.

Attorney Kofi Amankwaa, in his role as preparatory counsel, also signed these petitions under penalty of perjury. In addition, the defendants used these fraudulent petitions as the basis for applying for advance permission travel documents for their clients, allowing them to temporarily travel abroad and return to the United States.

Finally, they used these fraudulently obtained permits as a basis for their clients to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

Deceiving Vulnerable Immigrants

Immigration fraud case brought by Kofi Amankwaa and his son highlights the vulnerability of immigrants seeking legal assistance with their immigration process. These immigrants relied on the assistance of an immigration attorney, only to fall victim to deceptive and fraudulent practices.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has warned about the presence of scams and fraud targeting immigration applicants, petitioners and applicants for U.S. citizenship.

HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) is committed to protecting immigration applicants and petitioners from scams and fraud. In this particular case, the investigation and joint work between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and HSI led to the dismantling of this fraud ring and brought the defendants to justice.

U Visa and the Protection of Crime Victims

In the context of this immigration fraud case, it is important to highlight the existence of the U Visa, which provides protection for victims of crimes who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse and have cooperated with authorities in the investigation or prosecution of such crimes.

This visa was established in 2007 and is available to those who have been victims of various types of crimes, including domestic abuse.

U Visa allows victims to seek lawful permanent resident status in the United States and ultimately obtain the much desired green card. However, the process to obtain this visa can be lengthy and complex.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) database shows that there is currently a backlog of more than 344,600 U visa applications, while the annual quota is only 10,000. This means that the wait to obtain this visa can be more than 30 years.

Legal Consequences for Defendants

Both Kofi Amankwaa and his son, Kofi Amankwaa Jr. face felony charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and immigration fraud. These charges carry maximum penalties of up to five years in prison for conspiracy and up to ten years in prison for immigration fraud.

However, it is important to note that final sentences will be determined by a judge. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has stressed the importance of dismantling this fraud ring and bringing the defendants to justice.

Likewise, the Department of Homeland Security and the state government have expressed their commitment to continue to combat immigration document and benefit fraud to protect immigrants and ensure the integrity of the U.S. immigration system.

Conclusions

The dismantling of this immigration fraud ring in the Southern District of New York underscores the importance of maintaining the integrity of the immigration system and protecting immigrants from fraudulent practices. Abuse of programs intended to help victims of domestic violence is a serious crime that should not be tolerated.

It is critical that immigrants seek legal advice from reliable sources and avoid falling for scams or fraud. In addition, it is essential that law enforcement agencies and judicial authorities continue to work together to dismantle fraud networks and bring those responsible to justice.

Even the U visa remains a valid option for crime victims who wish to seek protection and legal status in the United States. However, it is important to keep in mind that the process can be lengthy and that there are limitations on annual quotas. It is necessary to work on streamlining these processes to provide a faster and more efficient response to those who have been victims of crime.