Joseph Robert Lopez charged with multiple counts of immigration fraud.

Apparently, immigration fraud is not going away anytime soon.

Small time scammers continue to take up the attention of government officials. Meanwhile, the bigger fish seem to remain off the radar of law enforcement.

For instance, a 76-year old man posing as a lawyer, was recently charged by the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office with multiple counts of immigration fraud.

According to local news accounts, Joseph Robert Lopez had been duping Spanish-speaking immigrants for several years throughout the Southern California region, including Riverside, Los Angles, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties.

The report did not provide any clues regarding he worked alone or in tandem with others.

This omission is quite common in stories about immigration scams.

In my view, as a deportation defense lawyer, too many discussions about immigration fraud overlook a key factor to fighting scammers: the social inequality between victim and perpetuator, the immigrant and the crook.

Most immigrants, who fall for the false promises of con artists, have limited understanding how the immigration system works.

The bad guys know this, and they plan their schemes around such ignorance.

Generally speaking, there are five common ploys used to rip-off immigrants.

Some schemes are deeper, larger, and more sophisticated.

As a result, they’re harder to detect. Usually, these are the worst of the worst immigration fraud schemes, affecting hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent immigrant families. In some cases, they go several years without detection.

These scams should be the number one priority of government officials in the war against immigration fraud.

Alas, they are not.

In the larger fraud schemes, where hundreds of thousands of dollars are made by the con artists, the person in charge often has ties to government offices.

So it seems a new anti-fraud initiative launched by immigration officials should be cause for celebration.

However, the effort is aimed at individual applications for immigration benefits. Not at the big fish.

This is akin to how the war on drugs has been oriented.

And you know how well that is going.


  1. Fake Attorney Arrested After Targeting Spanish Speaking Victims, March 20, 2014, KESQ – CBS Local
  2. Avoiding Immigration Fraud Traps – How To Escape Becoming The Next Victim, May 3, 2010, Batara Immigration Law You Tube Channel
  3. ICE, CBP Officials Indicted In Immigration Fraud Scheme
    May 8, 2013, CBS Los Angeles
  4. USCIS Wants To Train Its Interviewers To Spot Applicants Who Are Lying, July 29, 2013, Government Security News
  5. This article was originally posted on March 26, 2014 at Scoop.It