Attorney General Cuomo Obtains Additional Restitution For Victims Of Immigration Fraud

ALBANY, NY (March 30, 2007) — Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he has secured nearly $150,000 in additional penalties and restitution for two dozen victims of an immigration scam. On March 22, State Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. Dolan issued his second judgment against Christine Owad, a Greene County who took large payments from dozens of people, mostly of Irish descent, seeking U.S. green cards.

In this supplemental proceeding, Justice Dolan awarded restitution of $89,357.75 for 24 victims and awarded the State an additional $60,000 in civil penalties.  This was the second judgment that Justice Dolan has issued against Owad.  In September 2006, Justice Dolan issued a judgment awarding the State $105,000 in civil penalties and $2,000 in costs, and restitution of $197,898.14 for 55 victims.

Attorney General Cuomo said, “This individual ripped off dozens of people who were looking to build a future in New York.  She ruthlessly exploited those who came to this country seeking the American dream.  I am glad we were able to bring this individual to justice and repay the victims of her deceit.”

In February 2006, Justice Dolan issued a broad injunction requiring Owad to comply with the law and barring her from engaging in the immigration consulting business unless she posts a bond of $200,000 with the Attorney General’s office.  She has never posted the bond.

To secure payment of the judgments, the Attorney General’s office has successfully applied to the Greene County Supreme Court for appointment of a receiver to sell Owad’s 110-acre farm in Greene County.  The property is currently on the market for sale.

The Owad case was the first enforcement action in New York State involving the Immigration Assistance Services Law, which took effect in November 2004. 

In addition to the actions by the Attorney General, the Manhattan District Attorney has indicted Owad for a scheme to defraud the same immigrants for whom the Attorney General has obtained the judgments for restitution, since most of the victims were solicited in New York City.  Those charges are still pending.  

Consumers who have been victims of immigration assistance fraud are urged to contact the Attorney General through the office’s Consumer Helpline at (800) 771-7755 or website at www.ag.ny.gov.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Nick Garin, with the assistance of Senior Investigator Peter Schwindeller and Investigator Judith Koerber, under the supervision of Acting Assistant Attorney General-In-Charge of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office Barry Kaufman.  Forensic Accountant Lester Dier and Senior Consumer Fraud Representative Mark Hoops also assisted in the investigation.

 

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