LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Lynwood woman who admitted pocketing at least $75,000 from immigrants by impersonating a New York attorney with a similar name faces a potential federal prison term at sentencing today.
Jessica Godoy Ramos -- who neither attended law school nor passed the state bar exam -- pleaded guilty in November to a single mail fraud count, a felony carrying a possible multi-year penalty, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Posing as an immigration attorney, Ramos accepted thousands of dollars from dozens of immigrants seeking her services in an attempt to obtain legal status in the United States.
In some cases, she filed immigration petitions on behalf of ``clients,'' but in other instances she accepted money and performed no services, falsely telling immigrants their applications had been submitted, according to papers filed in Los Angeles federal court.
In at least one instance, the 37-year-old defendant created counterfeit immigration parole documents which a client was able to use to enter the United States.
``She bilked scores of the most vulnerable members of our society out of their hard-earned money by falsely claiming that she was a lawyer and could help them with their immigration issues,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Brown wrote in sentencing papers.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said that Ramos' victims initially believed she was a legitimate immigration attorney, but several became suspicious when Ramos directed them to appear at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices for interviews, even though they had no appointments.
Ramos ``victimized dozens of immigrants who were attempting to realize the American dream by paying someone they thought was a lawyer,'' then- acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown said after Ramos' September arrest. ``This type of scam, which unfortunately targets new immigrants too often, undermines our immigration system and can shatter dreams of obtaining legal status to remain in the United States.''
Federal authorities began investigating Ramos in February 2017 after a Homeland Security Investigations fraud task force received a tip about five of her victims, who went to USCIS offices in downtown Los Angeles expecting to pick up their non-existent ``green cards.''
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