New York Immigration Attorney Arrested for Immigration Fraud, Aggravated Identity Theft
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on January 15, 2016, that it played a “critical role” in an investigation leading to the arrest of New York attorney Gnoleba Seri for immigration fraud and aggravated identity theft. Homeland Security Investigations arrested Mr. Seri the same day in New York.
According to the complaint against Mr. Seri, between October 2012 and April 2015, he allegedly engaged in a scheme to use personal information contained in legitimate immigration documents for fraudulent purposes. In his role as a licensed immigration attorney, the complaint alleges, Mr. Seri submitted falsified and forged I-864 forms (affidavits of support for those seeking immigrant visas) in support of his clients’ applications for immigration visas and legal permanent resident status. Specifically, USCIS said, Mr. Seri received legitimate I-864 forms, tax information, pay stubs, and W-2 forms from individuals sponsoring his clients, then fraudulently submitted those documents with applications for other clients. USCIS said he submitted I-864 forms that listed individuals as financial sponsors who had never met the people they purportedly had agreed to sponsor. Those I-864 forms included the sponsors’ real names, identifying information, financial information, and forged signatures. The fraudulent and forged forms all listed Mr. Seri as the preparer and many were notarized by him.
Mr. Seri was charged with one count of visa fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive minimum sentence of two years in prison; and one count of mail fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.