News and Press Releases

RINGLEADER OF IMMIGRATION BENEFIT FRAUD SCHEME SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 9, 2010

Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Office of Investigations, announced that a Sunny Isles man who posed as an immigration consultant and attorney to defraud immigrants seeking immigration benefits was sentenced Friday, February 5, 2010, in U.S. District Court in Miami.

Victor Abreu, 45, of Sunny Isles, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke to five years in prison. In January, he pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide false statements to a federal agency, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. Abreu and five co-conspirators, three of whom have also pled guilty, were indicted on October 29, 2009.

In May 2007, ICE special agents in Fort Lauderdale began an investigation of Victor Abreu of Abreu & Associates, based on allegations that he was involved in immigration benefit fraud. Abreu and his employees were allegedly preparing false boilerplate immigration applications for illegal immigrants, including applications for employment authorization and employment visas.

The defendants were charged with engaging in a scheme through which they solicited payments from illegal immigrants by falsely promising to assist them with immigration matters. The scheme involved the preparation of benefit applications for at least 300 individuals from Argentina, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Venezuela, and Mexico, among other countries.

After receiving payments, Abreu and his co-defendants prepared the false immigration documents. To execute the scheme, Abreu falsely purported to be an immigration attorney and consultant. As a result of the scheme, some of the illegal immigrants obtained legitimate work authorization cards and driver's licenses to which they were not lawfully entitled.

United States Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman said, “Immigration fraud undermines the public’s faith in our system, as it provides benefits to those who are willing to break the laws. We will continue to work to make our immigration system free from fraud.”

“The filing of false applications to obtain immigration benefits for individuals that are not authorized to be present in the United States puts the security of our communities at risk,” said Anthony Mangione, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Miami. “Immigration benefits like these could be exploited by dangerous criminals to obscure their identities and cover their tracks. ICE will continue to aggressively pursue and criminally charge individuals who would exploit immigrant communities for their own self interests.”

The case was investigated by ICE’s Office of Investigations in Fort Lauderdale and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lorraine Tashman.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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