Wire Fraud

Beware of Immigration Scams: The Case of a Fake Attorney's $700K Fraud

The recent case reported by Micah Danney on Law360 on January 16, 2024, serves as a stark reminder of the dangers posed by immigration scams. A Brazilian woman, posing as an immigration lawyer, is charged with defrauding her clients of approximately $700,000, exploiting their hopes of obtaining U.S. visas through investment programs.

Patricia de Oliveira Souza Lelis Bolin, a 29-year-old Virginia resident, faces serious charges, including two counts of aggravated identity theft and 17 counts of wire fraud and unlawful monetary transactions. Her alleged scheme involved duping several victims into believing they were investing in legitimate EB-5 and E-2 visa programs.

The EB-5 program, which offers permanent residency and potential citizenship to foreign nationals investing in U.S. businesses, and the E-2 program, requiring smaller investments, were the vehicles Bolin used to lure her victims. She is accused of fabricating her professional qualifications, interactions with U.S. government agencies, and financial transactions, all while misappropriating investor funds for personal expenses, including a down payment on a townhouse and credit card debts.

One victim, identified as "Individual A," was referred to Bolin in hopes of securing permanent residency for his parents. After being misled about investing in a Texas real estate project, he sent over $135,000 to Bolin. Another victim was tricked into wiring money for visa application costs for a foreign employee.

This case highlights the crucial need for vigilance in immigration matters. As an experienced immigration attorney and former immigration officer, I cannot stress enough the importance of working with legitimate and verified legal professionals. Immigration scams not only lead to financial loss but can also have devastating legal and emotional consequences for victims.

For those seeking immigration services, it is essential to verify the credentials of any attorney or consultant and to be wary of promises that seem too good to be true. Legitimate immigration processes involve stringent guidelines and procedures, and no genuine attorney can guarantee a positive outcome or bypass these requirements.

The case of Lelis Bolin is a cautionary tale about the risks of entrusting immigration matters to unverified individuals. It underscores the importance of due diligence and the need for reliable legal counsel in navigating the complex landscape of immigration law.

In conclusion, this alarming case of fraud serves as a reminder of the perils lurking in the immigration field. As a dedicated immigration attorney, I am committed to providing ethical, informed, and competent legal assistance to those navigating the challenges of immigration.


Micah Danney, "Fake Atty Bilked Immigrant Investors Of $700K, Feds Say," Law360, January 16, 2024.

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