From World Journal
August 12, 2002
Numerous immigrant legal scams in Chinatown are now under investigation
after legal action was taken against Robert and Sheery Porges, who
pleaded guilty to immigrant legal scams. An illegal Chinese immigrant,
with the surname Ho, recently reported to the police that another
immigration service center in Chinatown has defrauded more than
$10,000 from him and there are more than 10 victims like him.
The Fifthth Precint in New York City has launched a
series of investigations into the activities of this law firm. The
citys Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) said yesterday
that it has enough manpower and resources to investigate the scams,
and that such scams also exist in the Hispanic communities.
The department warned law firms to steer away from illegal dealings
and also called on consumers to be extra cautious in selecting immigration
legal services from the newspapers and other publications.
Ho, who has lived and worked illegally in New York City for 10
years, saw an advertisement on a Chinese-language newspaper about
an immigration legal service center on Grand Street in Chinatown
and inquired about a green card application. He said that the owner,
with the surname Chang, charged him $10,000 in advance for a greencard
application. He requested that the police not reveal his name so
as to ensure his protection, since he saw the owner with a gun under
In mid June, Ho said, Changs partner, with the surname Li,
took him and two other victims to Philadelphia to get their fingerprints.
He added that he was told by Li that he would be getting a greencard
in the registered mail from the Immigration and Naturalization Service
According to Ho, from June to August, Li continued to ask him to
pay several extra thousand dollars, and claimed to be using the
money to bribe INS officials while telling him that he would be
getting his greencard soon. Ho said all transactions were made in
public places, including parks and restaurants.
However, Ho and other victims have not heard from the law firm
since. After a phone call with Li last week, the victims have not
been able to reach either Li or Chang, and there is no one in their
Ho has sought help from the 5th Precint and told the
detectives that there are at least 10 other victims.
Shi Fu-teh, a detective who is in charge of the case, has confirmed
with the INS that the victims greencard applications do not
exist, and is waiting for the firms record of previous greencard
applications. However, the police have encountered a lot of difficulties
in the investigation because the victims have never received any
kind of receipt or document.
[The recent scams have bright the INS and DCA to their attention.]perhaps
"The recent scams have been brought to the attention of the
INS and the DCA." Gina Improta, a DCA spokesperson, said
yesterday that it would be scouring the citys ethnic press,
including the Chinese-language press to see whether the contents
of immigration ads match their services. Violations will result
Improta said that the inspections would verify the firms
license to practice law and whether the service matches the ad contents.
But she added that only those who put out false ads would be punished
because they use the press to conduct scams, but the presses that
carry those ads will be spared.
The DCA also called on consumers to check if the lawyers are licensed
before consulting them, and that a written contract should be signed
if they are applying for immigration through service centers instead
of directly through a lawyer. In addition, the contract should clearly
state all rights and obligations and that a detailed budget should
be laid out before the signing. The department also reminds consumers
that they should always keep a copy of all documents.
For more inquiries, Improta said that consumers may seek help from
the New York City Bar Association at (212) 626-7373. To report a
scam, call the DCA hotline at (212) 487-4444
Translated From Chinese by Larry Tung