Judge orders imposter to return $100,000 to victims of immigration scam

A San Diego judge ordered Bemilda "Linda" Asuncion Ruiz, a con artist who posed as an immigration attorney, to repay $100,000 to 20 victims she defrauded between 2010 and 2012.

This is not the first time the imposter has defrauded undocumented immigrants into believing she could resolve their immigration cases. Adding previous court orders for restitution for previous scams, Asuncion Ruiz must return a total of $$750,000 to more than 100 victims she scammed since 1999.

Last month, for the third time in 8 years, Asuncion Ruiz was convicted of felony grand theft in a California court. She was sentenced to 5 years in prison for 2 counts of felony grand theft earlier this year.

ICE special agents from the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit in San Diego arrested Asuncion Ruiz in December 2012. After her arrest, the woman admitted that she posed as an immigration attorney and illegally charged for legal services.

This case demonstrates why it is extremely important to always ask to see the attorney's license. This is necessary to corroborate that he or she has the necessary credentials to operate legally and that he or she can provide proper legal advice.

The 45-year-old imposter is considered by the law to be a serial immigration fraudster who, despite multiple arrests and jail and prison sentences, continued to defraud undocumented immigrants each time she was released.

The imposter promised to obtain work permits, driver's licenses and other immigration benefits. Most of her victims were undocumented immigrants, but she also served a legal resident applying for U.S. citizenship.

Several individuals also paid him to file paperwork to obtain immigration benefits for family members.

According to investigators, the fraudster began operating her fraudulent immigration business in 1999. Over the next 6 years, she scammed dozens of victims.

HSI special agents arrested her in 2005 and she was convicted of 5 counts of felony robbery and sentenced to one year in county jail. In addition, a judge ordered Asuncion Ruiz to pay more than $50,000 in restitution to her victims.

Asuncion Ruiz managed to get out on bail. During this time, authorities claim that she continued to defraud people in order to pay the compensation she owed to her first group of victims.

HSI special agents continued to investigate the alleged fraud and arrested her again in August 2006. For the second time, Asuncion Ruiz was convicted after pleading guilty to multiple counts of identity theft in state court.

In April 2007, she was sentenced to 4 years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $$600,000 as part of a second restitution to her victims.

Asuncion Ruiz was released from state prison in August 2009 and by January 2010 had revived his immigration scam. A third HSI investigation culminated in her arrest in December 2012 and 5-year prison sentence earlier this year.

People who have been victimized by Asuncion Ruiz should call the San Diego County District Attorney's Office at 619-531-4070 to report the crime.