A Sunset Park-based scammer who preyed on Brooklynites looking to become American citizens and pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree grand larceny and one count of first-degree immigrant assistance services fraud last month was sentenced to two to four years in prison.
Howard Seidler, 70, of 336 51st Street, was sentenced by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on Wednesday, March 9.
“Howard Seidler is going to an upstate prison because he preyed on some of the most vulnerable members of our society – undocumented immigrants looking for legal help,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson. “He falsely claimed to be a lawyer and collected money without doing a thing. We’re determined to protect the people of Brooklyn from all types of con artists, including fake lawyers, and encourage every victim to report scams and other crimes, regardless of immigration status.”
According to the DA’s office, Seidler – who posted flyers in Sunset Park, advertising himself as an immigration lawyer, between November, 2014 and May, 2015 — used the address of the Brooklyn Bar Association (BBA) to perpetrate his scam, which involved posing as an attorney and offering fake immigration services, charging thousands of dollars in fees while providing no results for those who trusted him.
But, according to Thompson, Seidler is neither licensed to practice law nor accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals to provide immigration services.
An undercover investigator from the DA’s office met with Seidler in the library at the BBA’s offices, which Seidler claimed was his office, paying Seidler $3,085 on April 8, 2015 to assist him in getting his green card and Social Security card.
A little over two weeks later, on April 24, Seidler delivered a Social Security card and immigration paperwork that Seidler said had been filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. However, the Social Security card was a forgery, said Thompson, and no application had actually been filed by the scammer on the undercover investigator’s behalf.
Immigrant assistance services fraud is a new felony charge, which went into effect in February, 2015. This is the first conviction on the charge since its enactment.
Additional reporting by Jaime DeJesus