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Mexican Immigrants Victims Of Fraud

 La Prensa San Diego, News Report, Marianna Martinez

Two people were arrested and face 16 charges against them, after a year-long investigation by Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, found them involved in a series of frauds against the undocumented community from which they stole at least $120,000 dollars.

The defendants are Armando Garcia and Elizabeth Alcocer, who were arrested on Monday June 21 in San Diego, California and Albaqurque, New Mexico respectively. Their arrest came with charges of illicit enrichment, fraud and impersonation of a federal official. If found guilty, they may be fined up to $750,000 and sentenced up to 20 years in prison.

According to the indictment against them, -made by immigration authorities in charge of the investigation-, Garcia, a Tijuana born, 58 year old, and 47 year-old Alcocer formed a company called California Legal Services (CLS) based in Pico Rivera, Calif., which offered services for adjustment of status to undocumented immigrants, mostly Mexicans in the border area of Southern California.

Together, they would present themselves to potential customers as active employees of the migration service of the United States or as immigration lawyers, trying to convince their victims they were people who could influence the migration regularization process because they had “friends in the business”.

But neither defendant has been employed in any federal government agency or have the legal backgrounds necessary to process immigration cases.

After convincing their victims, they would secure large sums of money for their services, and later send applications for regularization of status on behalf of stakeholders, containing false information and fraudulent statements.

Soon after, the couple and their accomplices (not named in the case), produced false documents in which falsified names, official stamps and badges to pretend that immigration officials were reviewing their case. As a part of the fraud, they mailed false letters to the victims, making them believe that they where on their way to legalizing their status.

Thus far, a dozen victims are named in the case, defrauded for at least $120,000. In some cases, the victims are groups of sisters, young couples or entire families, who blindly put their trust into the possibility legalizing their status.

Such cases are common in areas such as San Diego-Tijuana, with a large immigrant population, but these cases are on the rise, due to the pending immigration reform and a climate of job insecurity, aggravated by the growing fear of raids in workplaces, like the one in Gourmet French restaurant, just last month, a case where the owner faces criminal charges for hiring illegal immigrants.

Although only a handful of people have been identified as victims of this fraud by Garcia and Alcocer, the authorities suspect that the number of victims may be much higher, but the victims are afraid to report the incident for fear of deportation.

Two people were arrested and face 16 charges against them, after a year-long investigation by Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, found them involved in a series of frauds against the undocumented community from which they stole at least $120,000 dollars.

The District Attorney’s office is making an appeal for any information on these persons or cases of fraud that may have occurred with other victims to report anonymously by phone (619) 550-5229, where they can leave a confidential and anonymous message.


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