A deceitful USA based Ghanaian lawyer, Kofi Amankwaa, and his son, Kofi Amankwaa Jr., have been detained and charged with orchestrating a seven-year immigration scheme that defrauded hundreds of immigrants, leading to some being deported.
The duo allegedly advised clients seeking green cards to submit petitions under the Violence against Women Act, falsely claiming abuse by their American citizen children.
These claims were then used as a basis for requesting permission for clients to travel abroad, facilitating their green card applications.
The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, stated that the applications were often found fraudulent, resulting in denials and deportations.
The Amankwaas face charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and immigration fraud, each carrying maximum sentences of five and ten years, respectively.
The New York attorney general, Letitia James, has also filed a lawsuit seeking restitution and damages against the accused. New York.
Mr. Amankwaa had been licensed to practice law in New York since 1996, but his licence was suspended in November after a state Attorney Grievance Committee, which handles reports of lawyer misconduct, received nine complaints from clients or their family members between October 2022 and May 2023, according to committee records. The younger Mr. Amankwaa provided legal advice to the clients even though he was not licensed to practice law in New York, prosecutors said.
One of Mr. Amankwaa’s clients, Ricardo Velazquez, a father of four living in the Bronx, had been in the United States for more than 20 years. Mr. Amankwaa filed documents claiming that Mr. Velazquez had been abused by his son and advised Mr. Velazquez to leave the country and re-enter in order to continue his green card application. When Mr. Velazquez tried to return from Mexico, he was detained and eventually deported.
Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School, said he had never heard of someone using the Violence Against Women Act to conduct immigration fraud. But such fraud can be hard to root out, he added, because victims often don’t recognize it or decide not to report it. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” he said. “If someone says, ‘I can guarantee you a green card if you just sign here,’ that’s a sure sign that something is funny.”
Catalina Cruz, a state assemblywoman who was once undocumented, described the Amankwaas’ actions as “unethical and unconscionable.”
“These families simply wanted the American dream and trusted Mr. Amankwaa as their lawyer,” she said. “Instead, he committed the most depraved of violations, and his actions led to forced separation from their families.”