Fake lawyer faces 20 years in prison for defrauding immigrants

A Los Angeles woman stole the identity of a New York attorney and, using her credentials, scammed several immigrants, charging them thousands of dollars for supposed immigration paperwork she never performed, federal authorities say.

Jessica Godoy Ramos, 36 years old, who faces criminal charges of mail fraud and aggravated identity theftThe company, which is a member of the Mexican government, turned itself in to the authorities on Wednesday, September 27.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California, the defendant allegedly began law school, but never graduated from college. However, she led her clients to believe that she was a lawyer.

Federal authorities began investigating Godoy Ramos in February, when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agents notified them that at least five of the woman's clients went to USCIS offices in downtown Los Angeles to pick up their non-existent "Green Cards".

The affidavit in the lawsuit alleges that Godoy Ramos filed immigration petitions on behalf of some immigrants, but in other cases he never performed the legal procedures for which his clients paid him thousands of dollars.

In at least one case, Godoy Ramos forged an advance parole document that one of his clients used to return to the United States.

Investigators estimate that Godoy Ramos defrauded at least 80 immigrants.

If convicted of the charges, Godoy Ramos could face up to 20 years in federal prison for mail fraud and a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years for the aggravated identity theft charge.

This is another example of how fake lawyers harm the immigrant community. Please be careful and click here to read tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of immigration fraud.