On Monday, January 22, 2024, The New York Times reported that the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York arraigned a Bronx lawyer and his son on charges of orchestrating an elaborate immigration fraud scheme that targeted hundreds of immigrants. Kofi Amankwaa, 69, and his son Kofi Amankwaa Jr., 37, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and immigration fraud charges brought by U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.
According to the complaint, between 2016 and 2023, the Amankwaas allegedly advised immigrant clients seeking green cards to file fraudulent petitions claiming they were victims of domestic abuse under the Violence Against Women Act. The petitions falsely stated the clients were being abused by their American citizen children to justify permission to travel abroad. Upon returning, the clients would use the permission as part of green card applications. However, prosecutors say the Amankwaas knew the clients had not experienced any abuse or failed to verify the claims. Many applications were denied as fraudulent, resulting in some clients being deported. Services from the Amankwaas ranged from $6,000 plus administrative fees.
In addition to the federal charges, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a civil lawsuit against the Amankwaas and three alleged accomplices for their roles in the scheme, seeking restitution for harmed clients. One victim, Bronx resident Ricardo Velazquez who had lived in the US for over 20 years, was deported after following the Amankwaas’ advice to leave and re-enter the country continuing his green card process.
Kofi Amankwaa had his law license suspended in November 2023 following nine complaints to the Attorney Grievance Committee between October 2022 and May 2023. Meanwhile, his son Kofi Amankwaa Jr. had no license to practice law in New York but allegedly provided legal counsel. The case has drawn outrage from officials who say the Amankwaas took advantage of vulnerable immigrants seeking the American Dream. Both defendants remain free on bail awaiting their next court appearance.
Source: The New York Times