Missouri Driver’s License Scheme Breaks Open with Plea
One of the four individuals indicted in October for running a scam taking advantage of immigrants recently admitted to the crime. Rumors spread that immigrants who did not have the proper documents to attain U.S. identification could acquire a Missouri license through the “right people.” Thomas McNamara III plead guilty to federal charges for being involved in the scam that extorted thousands of dollars from unsuspecting immigrants whose documents were worthless.
How the scam worked
McNamara was employed at St. Joseph contract fee office which is part of the Missouri Revenue Department. “Co-conspirators would reach out to Mr. McNamara before they would make arrangements to bring an individual into the license office to make certain he was at work and to let him know that they were bringing in a client.” Each client would come in and pay about a thousand dollars for a set of documents and an additional fee for a license. The invalid papers include Puerto Rican birth certificates and legitimate documents in other individuals’ names. Since the arrests, the expensive documents are worthless and the immigrants will not be receiving a refund.
Scamming of immigrants occurs often
According to the USCIS, scamming of immigrants happens more than people realize. It is important for immigrants to know that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Finding an accredited immigration attorney can save you costly fees that you will need to pay to fix errors that occur the first time. Services that ask for upfront cash only with no receipts back are also highly suspicious. Additionally, not offering an office address and asking to meet in a public area instead of an office are warning signs that something is not right. Anyone can become a victim of fraud, but people who are aware of the scams out there are less likely to fall prey to the people who instigate the crimes.
Because the immigration process is so complicated and expensive for immigrants, many are looking for alternative methods of gaining access to legal papers in the U.S. Some say this is another factor supporting the need for quick immigration reform to prevent immigrants from being taken advantage of. Congress’s approach to immigration reform in the upcoming year will be highly scrutinized and hopefully the system will become more efficient and accessible for those looking for a better life.
If you have questions regarding applying for citizenship, visas, or other immigration laws, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.