Bronx man allegedly poses as Hempstead attorney, steals more than $30,000 from immigrant clients

Efrain Vargas (Nassau County District Attorney)

MINEOLA, N.Y. — A 62-year-old Bronx man allegedly pretended to be an immigration lawyer and used his fake job to steal more than $30,000 from immigrants hoping to establish residency in the U.S., prosecutors said.

Efrain Vargas told clients in Hempstead he would obtain immigration and residency papers for them, but never delivered on his promises, officials said. He was arrested and arraigned Wednesday for allegedly scamming immigrants.

“This defendant is accused of exploiting immigrants by pretending to be an attorney and promising to help address their immigration issues,” District Attorney Madeline Singas said. “Notario scams are far too common in Nassau County and I encourage anyone who may have been victimized to contact my office.”

Vargas told three women he would help them get immigration papers in 2017, Singas said. But he allegedly took their money and never did anything for them.

He was hit with charges of grand larceny, immigrant assistance services fraud, scheme to defraud and practicing as an attorney without being admitted and registered. Vargas is due back in court on Jan. 23. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

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.