Bronx Attorney Charged With Large-Scale Immigration Fraud Scheme

Bronx Attorney Charged With Large-Scale Immigration Fraud Scheme

Editorial credit: Ron Adar /

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Michael Alfonso, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Newark Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced today the unsealing of a Complaint charging Bronx-based immigration attorney KOFI AMANKWAA and his son, KOFI AMANKWAA, JR., with carrying out a large-scale immigration fraud scheme.  The defendants will be presented this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged, Kofi Amankwaa, an immigration attorney, and his son, Kofi Amankwaa, Jr., sought to make a mockery of the U.S. immigration system by conspiring to defraud the United States and commit immigration fraud.  Amankwaa and his son allegedly exploited the Violence Against Women Act — a law that allows noncitizen victims of domestic abuse a path to lawful permanent residence status — for their own financial gain by falsely claiming that their clients were victims of domestic abuse.  Thanks to the dedicated actions of our law enforcement partners and the career prosecutors of this Office, the defendants must now answer for these crimes.”

HSI Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Alfonso said: “Kofi Amankwaa is charged with deceitful practices whereby he allegedly victimized clients who relied on his legal assistance with their immigration process.  HSI is committed to protecting the applicants, petitioners, and requestors of U.S. citizenship who, unfortunately, are often at risk of falling for scams or fraud.  HSI is thankful for the collaboration in this investigation with other Department of Homeland Security components, as well as other federal agencies, who continue to help us combat document and benefit fraud.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint:[1]

From September 2016 through November 2023, AMANKWAA and AMANKWAA, JR., met with clients and directed them to sign fraudulent Form I-360 Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) Petitions falsely stating that the clients were abused by their U.S. citizen children.  AMANKWAA also signed the petitions, under penalty of perjury, as the attorney preparer.

The defendants used the filing of the fraudulent Form I-360 VAWA Petitions, among other filings, as a basis to request advance parole travel documents for their clients — documents that enable individuals without legal status in the United States to travel abroad temporarily and return.  The defendants then directed their clients, upon obtaining the advance parole travel documents, to travel abroad and return to the United States.  Last, the defendants used the fraudulently procured advance parole as a basis for their clients to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

The defendants carried out this illegal scheme knowing that their clients had not, in fact, been abused by their children or without ever asking whether any such abuse occurred.  Moreover, the defendants were often unsuccessful in obtaining lawful permanent resident status for their clients because the clients’ immigration applications were denied on the basis of fraud, among other reasons.  The defendants typically charged their clients $6,000 for their services, plus administrative fees.

In November 2023, following numerous complaints by clients regarding the fraudulent abuse allegations, AMANKWAA’s license to practice law in the State of New York was suspended.

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KOFI AMANKWAA, 69, and KOFI AMANKWAA, JR., 37, both of South River, New Jersey, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit immigration fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and one count of immigration fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the HSI.  Mr. Williams also thanked the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Office of Fraud Detection and National Security for their support in this investigation.  He also noted that the New York State Attorney General’s Office separately initiated a parallel civil proceeding against AMANKWAA and AMANKWAA, JR., today.

This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Z. Margulies is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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