Texas Man Indicted in Seattle for Scamming Immigrants by Claiming He Could Provide Legal Status for Money
Falsely Claimed to Work for Immigration Service and Could Provide ‘Green Card’
A 49-year old El Paso, Texas man was indicted on December 7, 2016 with six counts of wire fraud and two counts of impersonating a federal officer or employee, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. ALEJANDRO GURANY, allegedly collected thousands of dollars from immigrants after telling them he worked for a government immigration office and could provide the immigrants with legal status for a fee. GURANY was never employed by a federal immigration agency. At least nineteen victims in Washington and Ohio have been interviewed by law enforcement. Authorities are seeking to contact others who may have been victimized.
“While law enforcement has identified more than a dozen victims in this case, there may be more out there,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “I encourage anyone who has information about this case, and anyone who may have been victimized by this scam to contact Investigators.” Tips related to such crimes can be made by email (https://www.ice.gov/we form/HSI-tip-form) or by calling 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.
GURANY has been summoned to appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle on January 5, 2017.
According to the indictment, between at least December 2011 and March 2015, GURANY pretended to be an employee of the United States and told immigrants he could get them legal status in the U.S. in exchange for money. GURANY would travel to SeaTac, Washington, and meet with immigrants at an airport hotel. The indictment alleges that GURANY would take personal identifying information, including photographs and fingerprints from the immigrants seeking green cards or citizenship. Some of the immigrants paid GURANY thousands of dollars believing he would provide legal status.
“This defendant preyed on vulnerable victims who were fearful of being deported by falsely representing himself to be in a position to assist them. His actions misrepresented the agency's purpose and processes while creating a false sense of fear in those wishing to seek help from law enforcement,” said Shawn Fallah, resident agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) in Seattle. “We remain committed to safeguarding the public from these imposters. ICE encourages community members to report this type of fraud to help us protect and prevent future victims.”
Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Impersonating an officer or employee of the United States is punishable by up to three years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Manheim.