Avoiding Unscrupulous Immigration Consultants

Beware Unscrupulous Immigration Attorneys

In the past, I have written about people of modest means who have been bamboozled by unscrupulous attorneys, “consultants,” and “notarios.” For example, I wrote about the fraudulent asylum applications submitted by attorneys and paralegals in New York City. Unfortunately, even wealthy investors can be victims of scams.

The “EB-5 visa” is a program that encourages foreign investment in American enterprises. In exchange for a sizable investment that supports the creation or preservation of 10 full-time jobs inside the United States, individuals are provided with an opportunity to obtain lawful permanent residence.

Foreign investors may sometimes rely on a “project manager” inside the United States to coordinate their investments. This project manager is tasked with making sure that the money goes to the right place. Unfortunately for some, the temptation is too great.

Recently, an immigration attorney was indicted for running a fraudulent investment scheme. According to prosecutors, the attorney told investors from China and Korea that their moneys would be used for an ethanol production facility. However:

“A federal grand jury [recently] returned a nine-count indictment that alleges Lee took approximately $47 million from 94 foreign investors. The indictment alleges that Lee used advertisements in foreign newspapers and other means to solicit Korean and Chinese nationals to invest $500,000 each, plus another $40,000 for administrative and legal fees. Lee guaranteed small annual returns on the investments, as well as ‘Green Cards’ for the foreign nationals. But, according to the indictment, Lee did not make the investments in purported biofuel production facilities and he submitted bogus paperwork to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which administers the EB-5 program.A federal grand jury in Santa Ana late this morning returned a nine-count indictment that alleges Lee took approximately $47 million from 94 foreign investors. The indictment alleges that Lee used advertisements in foreign newspapers and other means to solicit Korean and Chinese nationals to invest $500,000 each, plus another $40,000 for administrative and legal fees. Lee guaranteed small annual returns on the investments, as well as ‘Green Cards’ for the foreign nationals. But, according to the indictment, Lee did not make the investments in purported biofuel production facilities and he submitted bogus paperwork to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which administers the EB-5 program.”

Rather than direct the funds toward the ethanol production facility project that he advertised, the attorney used the funds for his own purposes. As a result, the foreign investors lost their opportunity to become U.S. lawful permanent residents.
You can read the FBI’s press release for more information.

In addition to the pending criminal charges, the attorney has been stripped of his license to practice law due to the alleged “major misappropriation of client funds.”

As I have counseled in the past, when your future in the United States hangs in the balance or a large amount of capital investment is at stake, it is important to conduct extensive research into the trustworthiness and reputation of the attorney who may be handling your case. Please do your “due diligence” — and I invite you to contact me.