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Document and Benefit Fraud

New Jersey woman sentenced for defrauding dozens of immigrants by posing as federal official

NEWARK, N.J. — A Kearny, N.J., woman who posed as a government official was sentenced Tuesday to 87 months in prison for orchestrating a scheme to defraud dozens of immigrants out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by pretending she could help them become United States citizens. The sentencing was the result of an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Professional Responsibility in the Northeast, ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Newark, and the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division.

Rosa Blake, aka "Mafalda", and "Rosa Vareiro", 56, pleaded guilty on June 28, 2011 to a 23 count superseding indictment charging her with six counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of impersonation of a government official and seven counts of money laundering.

According to court documents and statements made in court, from at least May 2004 to April 2009, Blake targeted dozens of victims who required official government action to obtain permanent legal status in the United States. Blake falsely represented to her victims that she worked for federal immigration authorities and promised to provide or expedite approval of their immigration paperwork, including permanent residency documents, or "green cards", and employment authorization documents.

Blake would often instruct her victims to meet her at her home, where she would take their identification papers and payment for her services. Occasionally, Blake would meet her victims wearing what appeared to be official government credentials around her neck. She would sometimes show them official-looking papers with what appeared to be letterhead and insignias of federal immigration authorities, which she would then have them sign. Blake would never permit her victims to retain or make copies of the papers. She would then tell her victims that in a matter of several months, they would receive employment authorization documents in the mail, followed by green cards.

Blake did not take any of the promised actions on behalf of her victims, but kept their money for her personal use. She spent thousands of dollars from her scheme on luxury clothing, including multiple fur coats; designer clothing and shoes; and a BMW. She also gambled hundreds of thousands of dollars at Atlantic City, N.J., casinos.

When victims realized they had not received any documents from Blake, they would often attempt to contact her to check on the status of their applications. Blake threatened them, saying among other things, that she had the power to have the victims deported at any time, even in the middle of the night, and that she was a dangerous person. She also said that she knew her victims' personal information, where they lived and who their relatives were; and that they would never see their children again once they were deported. She told victims that because they were illegal immigrants, they could not stop Blake from having them deported, nor report her to any other government authority.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge William H. Walls sentenced Blake to three years of supervised release and ordered her to pay $773,800 in restitution.