Restitution Obtained For Victims Of Irish Immigration Scam

Attorney General Spitzer today praised a court ruling that secures restitution for victims of an immigration scam.

State Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. Dolan issued the judgment against Christine Owad, a Greene County woman who posed as an immigration consultant and took large payments from dozens of people seeking U.S. green cards.

Spitzer’s office sued Owad in November 2005 after an investigation revealed that the predominantly Irish immigrants, who had paid for her services, received nothing for their money.

The Attorney General was able to identify 55 victims, to whom nearly $198,000 in restitution will now be awarded. In addition, the court will permit additional claims to be submitted through December 15, 2006. Based on records the Attorney General obtained from Owad, it is believed the number of victims exceeds 100.

In addition to the restitution order, Judge Dolan fined Owad $105,000 for her fraudulent acts and awarded the state $2,000 in costs.

"Hopefully, this ruling, which provides restitution and a measure of justice, will help restore a belief in the American dream to those immigrants who were scammed," Spitzer said.

Except for a supplemental judgment, which is expected to come after the deadline for additional claims passes, the court’s judgment brings to a successful close the Attorney General’s effort to stop this fraudulent scheme and to secure restitution for the victims.

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

Consumers who have been victims of immigration assistance fraud are urged to contact the New York State Attorney General through the Consumer Helpline at 1-800-771-7755 or through the Office of the Attorney General’s web site at www.ag.ny.gov.

This matter was handled by Mary Kavaney, Assistant Attorney General-In-Charge of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office and Assistant Attorney General Nick Garin, Assistant Attorney General Barry Kaufman, Senior Investigator Peter Schwindeller, and Investigator Judith Koerber, each of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office. Forensic Accountant Lester Dier also assisted in the investigation.


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