A man who pretended to be an immigration lawyer to commit fraud: the feds

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A Pennsylvania man has been charged with document fraud and identity theft after officials said he pretended to be an immigration attorney and cheated clients.

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The man was arrested after he was accused of misrepresenting an immigration lawyer and preparing forged documents on behalf of unknown clients.

Luke Fikiri Matthews, 47, was charged Feb. 9 on six counts on the presentation of false and forged immigration documents and six counts of aggravated theft of personal data in aggravating circumstances, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Jersey.

Matthews’ attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.

Matthews hails from Philadelphia and ran the African-Spanish Immigration Organization in Pensauken, New Jersey, according to the indictment. He claimed to be a “licensed and qualified” immigration attorney, but did not actually have a license to practice law in either Pennsylvania or New Jersey, the documents said.

Matthews touted his organization as an organization that could assist people and their families in legal work related to immigration, “including filing U.S. government official forms and filing for immigration benefits in the United States,” the indictment said.

Six clients who worked with Matthews in Pensauken and elsewhere in his organization, Newark, and who were immigrants from Honduras, Greece or El Salvador, turned to Matthews for help in obtaining U visas that allow people “affected by significant physical or mental violence as a result of his being a victim of … criminal activity ”to obtain certain protection measures, such as the opportunity to live and work in the United States, the indictment said.

Matthews has been accused of “false and false statements in immigration documents”, including forging forms from government officials to obtain U visas for his clients, the indictment said. He was also accused of misleading his clients by assuring them that they were eligible for visas, and charging money for his services, according to the indictment.

Matthews has also been accused of falsely claiming that his clients have fallen victim to some crimes committed in the US to force them to apply for a U visa.

For example, one Matthews client from El Salvador expressed concern to Matthews that he would not qualify for a U visa because his child was attacked in El Salvador, not the U.S. Matthews told him not to worry, the indictment said.

In another case, a client from Honduras told Matthews that she was the victim of a crime in New Jersey in 2011 and that her husband had witnessed the crime. Matthews told them the crime would entitle the woman and her husband to a visa, but then in immigration forms spoke of the crime, saying it included rape and sexual assault, the indictment said.

Matthews also provided documents with “fake names, signatures and other fake means of identification from various visa applicants and government officials based in New Jersey and New York,” the press release said. None of the clients have ever received a U visa, the indictment said.

Matthews was due to appear in court on Thursday, February 24th.

Vandana Ravikumar is a real-time McClachy reporter. She grew up in northern Nevada and studied journalism and political science at the University of Arizona. She previously reported for USA Today, The Dallas Morning News and Arizona PBS.



A man who pretended to be an immigration lawyer to commit fraud: the feds

Source link A man who pretended to be an immigration lawyer to commit fraud: the feds