South Bay immigration consultant charged with theft

SAN JOSE – A San Jose-based immigration consultant has been charged with theft for allegedly taking thousands of dollars from clients but failing to file the applications they requested, authorities said.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation in July after a man and a woman reported that they had paid the consultant, a 36-year-old woman, about $ 5,000 to fill out a citizenship and visa application. Over the course of four years, the consultant told clients she had submitted the application to the United States Citizenship Immigration Services, but detectives confirmed she kept their money and did not submit the application, Deputy Director Russell Davis said in a news release Monday.

“As a result, the victims were unable to visit their homeland to visit dying relatives,” Davis said.

During the investigation, another client also reported that he paid the consultant about $ 1,000 for an application for deferred action for child access or DACA. Davis said the consultant did not submit the application or return the client’s money, resulting in the client losing a scholarship and an opportunity to attend a business school.

Detectives interviewed the consultant at her office on the 1600 block of Story Road in San Jose. In addition to finding that no applications were filed, they found no accounts for the financial transactions, Davis said. The consultant claimed to be a state-owned immigration consultant, Davis added, but records showed she was not authorized to perform immigration services and was issued a termination letter by the state in 2018.

Davis said the victims are now working with immigration attorneys to get their citizenship.

The consultant faces charges related to grand theft, theft by false pretenses and violations of the Immigration Consultant Act, Davis said. On Saturday, she reported herself to a guarantor. She will appear in court Jan. 11, according to online court records.

Victims of immigration service providers can contact the sheriff’s office at 408-808-4599.

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