NEW YORK—A naturalized U.S. citizen from Austria has been charged with executing a scheme to defraud immigrants, the New York County District Attorney’s Office announced.
According to the indictment, Martin Mannert, 41, falsely represented himself as someone qualified to provide assistance with immigration application forms, and charged his clients thousands of dollars for his services.
“Instead of preying on a single immigrant community, the defendant took advantage of vulnerable victims from all different backgrounds,” District Attorney Vance said in a press release on Aug. 21.
Mannert was the president of Consulting Services of New York, located on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan’s Koreatown, where victims paid him an average of $10,000 each for legal advice, while seeking to adjust their immigration statuses, the indictment said. Mannert is not an attorney.
After accepting the money, Mannert allegedly sent clients forged documents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Labor. The documents said the victims’ applications for benefits, such as work authorization, had been approved, when they had not, the indictment said.
Mannert, who is a resident of Los Angeles, Calif., has been charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree, a class D felony, 4 counts; grand larceny in the third degree, a class D felony, 3 counts; forgery in the second degree, a class D felony, 4 counts; scheme to defraud in the first degree, a class E felony, 1 count; prohibited conduct by an immigration assistance service, a class A misdemeanor, 2 counts; and prohibited conduct by an immigration assistance service, a class A misdemeanor, 2 counts.
The DA’s office encourages other people who may have been victims of this or a similar scheme to call the office’s Immigrant Affairs Hotline at 212-335-3600, regardless of immigration status.