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US-Based Ghanaian Lawyer and Son Caught in Large-Scale New York Immigration Fraud

Prosecutors alleged that Kofi Amankwaa provided counsel to clients in pursuit of green cards, encouraging them to endorse petitions under the Violence Against Women Act. This legislation grants undocumented immigrants who have suffered abuse the opportunity to obtain lawful permanent residence status in the United States.

A Bronx-based immigration attorney, Kofi Amankwaa, and his son, Kofi Amankwaa Jr., are currently facing federal charges for orchestrating a seven-year immigration fraud scheme.

The lawyer, Kofi Amankwaa, 69, and his son, Kofi Amankwaa Jr., 37 were presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn on Monday, January 22, by Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Michael Alfonso, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Newark Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations.

Prosecutors alleged that Kofi Amankwaa provided counsel to clients in pursuit of green cards, encouraging them to endorse petitions under the Violence Against Women Act. This legislation grants undocumented immigrants who have suffered abuse the opportunity to obtain lawful permanent residence status in the United States.

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“As alleged, Kofi Amankwaa, an immigration attorney, and his son, Kofi Amankwaa, Jr., sought to make a mockery of the U.S. immigration system by conspiring to defraud the United States and commit immigration fraud. Amankwaa and his son allegedly exploited the Violence Against Women Act — a law that allows noncitizen victims of domestic abuse a path to lawful permanent residence status — for their own financial gain by falsely claiming that their clients were victims of domestic abuse,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said.

According to the allegations, Amankwaa and Amankwaa Jnr. met with clients from September 2016 through November 2023 and directed them to sign fraudulent Form I-360 Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) Petitions falsely stating that the clients were abused by their U.S. citizen children. Amankwaa also signed the petitions, under penalty of perjury, as the attorney preparer.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, the Amankwaas were either aware that their clients had not experienced abuse or refused to inquire about any such incidents.

The defendants, typically charging their clients $6,000 and other administrative fees for their services, were often unsuccessful in obtaining lawful permanent resident status for their clients.  Their clients’ immigration applications were denied on the basis of fraud, among other reasons.

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In November 2023, following numerous complaints by clients regarding the fraudulent abuse allegations, Amakwaa’s license to practice law in the State of New York was suspended.

The Amankwaas were each charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit immigration fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and one count of immigration fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The New York Times reports that both pleaded not guilty and were otherwise silent at their arraignment on Monday, where at least two other family members were present.

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