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Family Convicted of Defrauding New York Immigrants in Green Card Scam

310312_5696_02022012.jpgA judge in Queens sentenced a family of three to a total of 418 years in prison for a series of scams that cost fellow immigrants $1.8 million. Shane and Gomatee Ramsundar and their adult daughter Shantal were charged with grand larceny and other related offenses. They were convicted in November. Shane Ramsundar received a 235-year sentence, the maximum allowed by law. His wife Gomatee received a 153-year sentence, and their daughter received a 30-year sentence. The family is originally from Trinidad in the Caribbean, and their victims are also immigrants from Trinidad and other Caribbean countries.

According to prosecutors, Shane Ramsundar would pose as an agent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) working with the FBI. He would approach fellow immigrants in Hindu temples in Queens. Appealing to their religious faith, he would allegedly present a fake badge and ID card. He also carried an air gun to complete the disguise. Prosecutors allege that he would play on the trust engendered by the fact that they were all immigrants from the West Indies. Part of the scam reportedly involved offers to purchase distressed properties in Florida with his purported government connections, then transfer the deeds to his victims. He collected around $1.5 million from ten individuals in this phase of the scam.

Ramsundar also allegedly claimed that he could help the victims obtain legal immigration status and remove their names from deportation schedules and terrorist watch lists using his government connections. He received over $250,000 from twelve victims in this phase, some of whom also gave him money for the real estate scam. In all, he was accused of collecting $1.8 million from nineteen victims. Gomatee Rasmundar reportedly assisted in convincing victims that her husband could obtain immigration benefits for them, and Shantal Rasmundar allegedly laundered the money they received through various bank accounts.

Prosecutors charged the three with 34 criminal counts including grand larceny, money laundering, criminal impersonation, and more in March 2010. All three pleaded not guilty. A jury convicted them of grand larceny and other charges in November 2011, and the sentencing was done in mid-January 2012.

Their case demonstrates the risk posed to many immigrants because of the complexity of our immigration system. Unscrupulous con artists may prey on immigrants, particularly those who lack legal immigration status, offering them assistance in obtaining green cards or other benefits in exchange for cash. This immigration law blog has reported on efforts by the government to educate people about common types of scams that target immigrants.

The simplest answer to the problem of con artists is to educate people that there are no quick fixes or shortcuts in immigration. People may obtain green cards through family members or employment in some circumstances. Every so often, a program will allow certain people an opportunity to obtain a green card when they could not before. Anyone claiming a quick and easy way to obtain a green card should be met with caution.

The New Jersey immigration lawyers at Samuel C. Berger, P.C. help immigrants seeking visas to understand and navigate the complicated immigration system. To schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys today, contact us online or at (212) 380-8117.

More Blog Posts:

Benefactor Pays Undocumented New York College Student’s Tuition Bill After Reading About Her in the Newspaper, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, January 19, 2012
Immigrants Should Take Care in Choosing a Lawyer, Study Finds, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, January 3, 2012
Flight School Owner Arrested for Alleged Immigration Fraud, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, December 27, 2011
Photo credit: For Sale – Waterfront Property by tvvoodoo on stock.xchng.