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May 13, 2005
Beware of Scam Artists
- Atty. Michael J. Gurfinkel, Esq. Email this article
For years, I have warned people about so-called “immigration consultants”, who promise to help undocumented aliens obtain “fast and sure” green cards by claiming that they know “secret laws” or short cuts on immigration law, or they know people inside the USCIS who can help expedite and approve the processing.


The bottom line is that most, if not all, of their clients end up in even more difficult situations, including being deported/removed, after spending their hard-earned money and wasting precious time.


Some immigration consultants even have the nerve to claim they are employees of respectable immigration law offices, and that they can do the work “on the side”, without the attorney’s knowledge, so the client can “save money”.  It has come to my attention that one scam artist claimed to be an employee of my law office.  He even had some business cards printed, showing he is an employee of my law office.  Of course it was a fraud and trick, designed to deceive unsuspecting victims.  He always arranged meetings at restaurants, etc., saying he couldn’t see her at the office, during normal business hours.


One of the persons he had approached came to my office, complaining that this consultant offered to help her obtain a green card in three months for a fee of from $7,000 to $10,000. The consultant claimed he had a contact man inside the USCIS, who worked for USCIS for over 37 years, and who was also a “former CIA man”, and was thus a “smooth operator”, who could “get things done”.


The consultant claimed that if the applicant came to the U.S. legally (i.e. on a visitor’s or student visa) and the I-94 had not expired, the man’s fee is $7,000. If the client is here illegally, or was already ordered deported, his fee is a minimum of $10,000.


According to this consultant, if the client paid the fee in full, in cash, she would get her green card in three months.  The inside contact, the consultant said, accepts only cash.  The consultant even cited other of his supposed clients, who had already been granted green cards with the help of his USCIS contact. 


The client, who had come to me to salvage the harm the scam artist had done, said the consultant was caught and is now in jail. I’m sure that if indeed some of his clients had obtained green cards through this alleged “contact”, (if he even exists), these green cards are now being reviewed and their beneficiaries would soon face deportation.


For my part, I am evaluating my own legal options against this consultant, or any other person who would dare hold themselves out as an employee of my office, when such is not the case.  I advised this particular client, as I would with any other client, that my office does not authorize any business conducted “on the side” by any of our staff or employees.  All our immigration cases are handled in the office, by licensed attorneys.  So, if you’re ever approached by anyone claiming to be an employee of any attorney, and that the employee will do the work “on the side”, because it would be “just like the lawyer doing the work, but at a fraction of the cost”, then you should run (not walk) away from that person, because that’s a clear sign that you are going to be the victim of a scam.  The real attorney (who this scam artist supposedly works for) is not going to take or accept responsibility for the work performed by scam artists “on the side”, and you could wind up being in a worse position than if you had done nothing at all about your case.


The lesson here is that if you want to “legalize” your status in the United States, the best way is to do it “legally”, and with a real, reputable attorney.  If some persons are claiming to have secret access  or shortcuts to some “secret laws”, or to “connections” inside the USCIS, you should  think twice before agreeing to let these unscrupulous people handle your immigration problems. You should go to a reputable attorney, who can analyze your situation, give you viable options, and help you obtain the immigration benefits you may be legally entitled to.


 My advice to you is to quit looking for shortcuts or “quick fixes”.  The only way to legalize your status is to do it legally.






Michael  J. Gurfinkel has been an attorney for over 24 years, and is an active member of the State Bar of California and New York, as well as the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Immigration Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.  He has always excelled in school:  Valedictorian in High School; Cum Laude at UCLA; and Law Degree Honors and academic scholar at Loyola Law School, which is one of the top law schools in California. 



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 (This is for informational purposes only, and reflects the firm's opinions and views on general issues.  Each case is different and results may depend on the facts of a particular case. All immigration services are provided by an active member of the State Bar of California and/or by a person under the supervision of an active member of the State Bar.  No prediction, warranty or guarantee can be made about the results of any case.  Should you need or want legal advice, you should consult with and retain counsel of your own choice.)           

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