Three South Los Angeles relatives scammed dozens of immigrants, resulting in the majority of them being unknowingly processed for deportation, officials said.
The family members unlawfully provided legal services for U.S. residency or work permits, filing invalid asylum cases that could lead to their clients being deported, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The trio collected more than $101,000 from 38 victims, the DA’s office said.
Oscar Mauricio Gil, 63, was charged with 19 felony counts of grand theft and three counts of conspiracy to commit a crime.
His sister, 67-year-old Judith Gil, was charged with 31 counts of felony grand theft, three counts of conspiracy to commit a crime and one count of extortion. Her daughter, 39-year-old Minerva Gil, was charged with 22 felony counts of grand theft and three counts of conspiracy to commit a crime.
“The immigrant community should not be preyed upon and swindled out of their money from unscrupulous scammers,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement.
The three worked from their home, under the business name FJA and Associates, from 2008 until June this year, during which time they “conspired to illegally provide immigration services,” the DA’s office said.
According to the felony complaint, some victims didn’t know the Gils were filing asylum applications on their behalf to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and several weren’t told that they actually weren’t eligible for asylum benefits and that the applications they filed could result in their deportation.
They also wrote false information on people’s applications to the USCIS, officials said.
In one case, Judith Gil gave the man a document and falsely claimed it would protect him from deportation, according to the complaint.
The three, who aren’t active members of the California State Bar, held themselves as if they were entitled to practice law, prosecutors said.
There were also instances in which clients paid the trio for immigration services they never received.
The case remains under investigation and no further details were available.
Those who believe they were victims of fraud can call 213-974-1452, a hotline set up by the L.A. County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs to report complaints.