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INS impersonator admits scamming immigrants out of $150,000

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

He told them he was an immigration agent who could get nearly two dozen of them green cards, work permits and other important documents. Then he took their money and ran.

Michael Ruiz finally admitted his crimes after genuine federales in the U.S. caught up with him.

Ruiz, 45, of Newark, told U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson he fleeced the unwitting victims of more than $150,000 over three years without giving them anything in return. The judge ordered him to remain in custody until a scheduled Jan. 15 sentencing for mail fraud.

Ruiz admitted that he introduced himself under a false name to the immigrants, telling them he worked for ‘INS’ or some other federal immigration authority, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott B. McBride.

He offered “a variety of immigration services for a fee, none of which he was in a position to provide,” said McBride, of the U.S. Attorney’s Government Fraud unit. “Those services included obtaining immigration and other documents, such as ‘green cards,’ work permits, and Social Security cards.”

He also offered to help their family members enter the U.S. and said he could help them get discounted government-seized vehicles and homes.

All lies, Ruiz told the judge.

In one instance, he admitted telling an immigrant he was an INS agent named Michael Silva. He said he offered to obtain documents while bringing the man’s wife and child to the U.S. from Brazil — then made off with $13,800.

Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra credited Special Agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of
Professional Responsibility, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge, Steven J. Mocsary, for the investigation leading to the guilty plea.

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