By NAN Staff Writer
News, Americas, SEATTLE, WA, Fri. Oct. 16, 2015: A 61-year-old former resident of Mercer Island has admitted to defrauding over 40 immigrants from the Caribbean and Latin and South America with promises of legal immigration status.
Dalia Ivette Singh, aka Dalia Pena, admitted she stole more than $220,000 from the immigrants with promises of immigration assistance while posing as an immigration lawyer and consultant.
According to records, between 2008 and 2011 Singh represented to various people that she could assist them with obtaining legal status in the U.S. The victims were immigrants who did not have legal status in this country. She claimed she had a USCIS contact who ran a special program the immigrants could use to get legal status.
Some immigrants from the Caribbean and Latin and South America paid Singh $5,000 to obtain immigration benefits while one witness called “JT” paid $32,000 alone for his family members. Another named only as “MF” paid $36,000.
One group of approximately 30 people who all attended the same church paid some $96500 to Singh while another group of 8 paid $58,400.
“This defendant preyed on victims whose dream was to become a U. S. citizen,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “Although she held herself out as someone who could help, she never did, and instead took advantage of the victims’ church affiliations and networks of friends to enrich herself.”
“Those who profit by preying on vulnerable members of the immigrant community will pay a hefty price for their crimes,” said Shawn Fallah, resident agent in charge of OPR in the Pacific Northwest. “We’re committed to safeguarding the public from scam artists and others who exploit people’s false hopes for no other reason than to enrich themselves.”
Singh’s sentencing before U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones is scheduled for Jan. 22, 2016. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Singh will pay $222,900 in restitution. Prosecutors will recommend 18 months in prison and Singh will request no less than one year in prison. Judge Jones is free to impose any sentence up to the 20 year maximum allowed by law.