A Cedarhurst woman preyed on vulnerable immigrants when she stole nearly $40,000 from at least three people who sought help with their immigration status, prosecutors said.
Marie Lisa Smith, 38, who used multiple aliases, was arraigned Thursday on three counts of grand larceny in the third degree, three counts of immigrant assistance services fraud, one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree and one count of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree, prosecutors said.
Judge William Hohauser set bond at $7,500 or $5,000 cash, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement.
“This defendant allegedly victimized vulnerable immigrants by stealing thousands of dollars from them with a bogus promise of assistance with citizenship, green cards and employment,” Singas said. “Crimes against immigrants are on the rise and our Office of Immigrant Affairs is dedicated to seeking justice for victims, regardless of their immigration status.”
If convicted, Smith faces a maximum of 7 years in prison, Singas said.It was not clear Thursday whether Smith had retained an attorney.
Smith allegedly met her first victim in April 2015 when she hired him to do work on her home. She told him she could help with his family’s immigration status, Singas said.
The man paid Smith $28,500 for an immigration lawyer. Smith then provided him with forged documents that Smith purportedly said were from the U.S. Department of Justice, along with the name of an attorney who had no knowledge of the victim’s case, Singas said.
Prosecutors said Smith met another person that same month through her relationship with the first victim and said she was willing to sponsor the second man for citizenship. Smith promised him a job at a nursing home she owned and that he would have working documents within six months, Singas said.
Smith has no affiliation with a nursing home, Singas said.
The second victim paid Smith a total of $3,750. The man has not received a green card or any immigration documents, or any nursing home employment, Singas said.
A third victim met Smith in May 2015. She also offered him a job at the nursing home she said she owned, Singas said.
Smith told the man that he could obtain working papers and that after six months he could apply for a green card. The man paid Smith $6,900 for the services of a lawyer she said could process the man’s paperwork, Singas said.
Authorities said Smith may have victimized others. Anyone who suspects they may be a victim of an immigration fraud by Smith is urged to call prosecutors at 516-571-3505.