MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a Bronx man who posed as an attorney in Hempstead has been arrested for allegedly scamming immigrants out of more than $30,000.
Efrain Vargas, 62, was arraigned yesterday before Judge Tricia Ferrell and charged with:
- Three counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a D felony)
- Three counts of Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud (an E felony)
- Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (an E felony)
- Three counts of Practicing or Appearing as Attorney-at-Law Without Being Admitted and Registered (an A misdemeanor)
The defendant was conditionally released to probation and is due back in court January 23. If convicted of the top count he faces 2-1/3 years to seven years in prison.
“This defendant is accused of exploiting immigrants by pretending to be an attorney and promising to help address their immigration issues,” DA Singas said. “Notario scams are far too common in Nassau County and I encourage anyone who may have been victimized to contact my office.”
DA Singas said from March to May 2017, the defendant represented himself as an attorney to three different women who sought his services to obtain immigration and residency papers. During meetings with the women, the defendant stated he would be able to assist them in getting the papers and asked for deposits in cash or by U.S. Postal Money Order. However, the defendant allegedly took the money and never performed any of the work. In total, the defendant allegedly stole more than $30,000 from the women.
One complainant contacted the NCDA’s Office of Immigrant Affairs in August of 2017 and an investigation immediately commenced. The investigation uncovered the two additional victims and revealed that the defendant is not admitted to the New York bar.
Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of an immigration attorney scam is encouraged to call the NCDA Tip Line at (516) 571-7755 or the NCDA Office of Immigrant Affairs at (516) 571-7756.
ADA Vickie Curran of DA Singas’ Government and Consumer Frauds Bureau is prosecuting this case. The defendant is represented by Chris Bechtle, Esq.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.