Con artists find the most vulnerable people in society and take advantage of them. The vulnerable need help and they need hope. Immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, are among the most vulnerable people in society. Most undocumented immigrants are unwilling to call the police and report crimes for fear of being deported.
A potential client told me of one such scam recently. She paid another woman $3,000 to fix her daughter’s immigration status. The con artist claimed to work for immigration (USCIS), and said she would be able to get her daughter a green card. They communicated regularly for several weeks, and during that time, my client recommend several other people to the con artist. Altogether, she thinks about 30 people in her Utah community paid, and they probably all paid $3,000. Allegedly, the green card was going to come in the mail several weeks ago. Now my client can’t get the con artist to answer the phone.
As I heard the story, I recognized immediately that she was the victim of a con artist, even as she held out hope that this was all legitimate. A real USCIS employee could not accept cash payments to fix someone’s status. Also, there are specific guidelines USCIS must follow. They can’t just wave a wand and fix someone’s immigration status.
While immigration lawyers often ask for money up-front, they are also going to have a permanent office where you can reach them. Also, immigration lawyers know that USCIS rarely acts quickly and would never promise you a green card “next week.” It breaks my heart to see anyone taken advantage of in this way. If you are at all in doubt, ask to see your lawyer’s bar card. Every state bar association will let you know if a lawyer is in good standing. No legitimate lawyer is going to be offended if you ask for their credentials.