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Three Missourians were sentenced to jail time for mail and wire fraud in connection to fraudulent immigration services. The three defendants pleaded guilty in connection to a fraud scheme where court officials falsely represented themselves to consumers and received false payments.
Thomas Lawrence, Thomas Strawbridge and Elizabeth Meredith were sentenced to a year in prison in addition to paying a total of $613,969 in restitution to the victims. A federal court decided that the three were guilty in connection to a fraud scheme while they were working at Immigration Form and Publications in Sedalia. The officials would falsely represent themselves to consumers while saying they were affiliated with the federal government and that the sales representatives were immigration agents. The defendants convinced immigrants that the extensive fees were mandatory and would speed up the application processing. "This company exploited more than a thousand law-abiding immigrants by selling them government forms that anyone can obtain for free," said U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Tammy Dickinson. "They preyed on legal immigrants who were doing their best to follow the law, and they are being held accountable for their fraud and deceit."
Strawbridge opened and owned the company in 2009 and 2010. The IFP representatives falsely represented to consumers that IFP handled any volume for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. They not only sold immigration forms to customers, but also convinced them that other services were required in order to have their applications viewed by Immigration Services. The representatives also told consumers that the paralegals were employed to help customers correctly fill out forms and they would be processed more efficiently than if the consumers dealt directly with USCIS. Another hidden fact was that several customers had already complained about the company and requested refunds when they discovered that the payments to IFP did not include government processing fees. Thanks to the court’s recent ruling, victims of this fraud scheme will be compensated for the money they lost. When looking for aid in immigration issues, it is best to contact a certified immigration attorney who understands the law and proper procedures when filing immigration forms.