FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Brooklyn Man Sentenced to up to Three Years for Posing as U.S. Immigration Employee and
Stealing $5,000 from Three People Seeking Services
Promised He Could Help Get Green Cards, Citizenship and Other Services He Never Delivered
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been sentenced to up to three years in prison for a scheme in which he posed as an employee of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and stole $5,000 from three individuals for immigration-related services, which he promised but never delivered.
Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant targeted the immigrant community because he knows they are especially vulnerable. As such scams become more prevalent, I remain committed to protecting all Brooklyn residents, regardless of their immigration status. I intend to vigorously prosecute con artists such as this defendant who prey on the desperation of others.”
The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Israel Torres, 57, of Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to one-and-a-half to three years in prison following his guilty plea last month to fourth-degree grand larceny.
The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, in April 2015, the defendant met one victim whom he told that he was an employee of USCIS. The victim told the defendant that her husband was undocumented and needed help getting a Green Card. The defendant said that he could assist her in exchange for $3,200, which she paid him in cash. The defendant did not supply a receipt for the payment and the victim’s husband never got his legal permanent residency.
Also in April 2015, according to the investigation, the defendant met another individual whom he told that he was an employee of USCIS and worked at 26 Federal Plaza. The defendant told the victim that if she ever needed assistance, he could help her. The victim told the defendant that she had her Green Card, but wanted help getting a U.S. citizenship. The defendant said he could expedite the process and assist her with the paperwork, for which he charged her $1,000. She paid in cash, was provided no receipt and never received her citizenship.
The Acting District Attorney said that the investigation revealed a third victim whom the defendant approached in March 2015. According to the investigation, the defendant met the victim and told her he worked for USCIS at Federal Plaza. He asked her if she would be interested in bringing a family member to the U.S, saying he could help get the relative permanent residency. The victim mentioned she would like to bring over a relative from the Dominican Republic. The defendant agreed to assist her and charged her $800, which she paid in cash. The defendant did supply a receipt in this case. When the victim’s relative didn’t receive permanent residency or citizenship, the victim repeatedly asked for her money back, which the defendant eventually returned, only, in part, in the amount of $300.
The investigation revealed that no Green Card application, citizenship application or related paperwork was filed with USCIS by the defendant on behalf of any of the victims or their family members, nor was the defendant employed by USCIS.
The Acting District Attorney thanks the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Fraud Detection and National Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, New York City Field Office for its assistance in the investigation.
The case was investigated by Detective Investigator Jennifer Burgos of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Supervising Detective Investigator Robert Addonizio and under the overall supervision of Edwin Murphy, Deputy Chief.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Fayola Charlet of the District Attorney’s Immigrant Affairs Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney José Interiano, Deputy Chief, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.
The District Attorney’s Immigrant Affairs Unit can be reached at 718-250-3333 for the reporting of immigration-related fraudulent schemes or other crimes.