FBI busts fake immigration lawyer scheme

Lorain, OHIO (WTVG) - Three people are facing federal charges after the FBI says they created a fake law firm and posed as immigration lawyers for people facing deportation.

According to court documents filed in Federal Court, a man named Jose Fernandez Morel, Esteban Ramirez III and Heather Tolson, devised a plan to defraud and obtain money from victims who thought they had hired a legitimate immigration attorney,

The indictment says Fernandez Morel is a citizen of the Dominican Republic. In 2016 he agreed to leave the U.S. after an immigration hearing. The FBI claims the following year, Fernandez Morel started posing as an immigration attorney with a fake practice out of Alexandria, Louisiana.

Agents say Esteban Ramirez III and Heather Tolson, who were dating at the time were in on the scheme. They lived in Lorain, Ohio and created bank accounts that accepted payments from potential clients.

Tolson allegedly opened a bank account in Lorain to receive fraud money and then transferred funds back to Fernandez Morel in the Dominican Republic.

All three suspects are now facing charges of Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three additional counts of wire fraud.

Tolson and Ramirez III are both locked up in the Lucas County Jail.

It is unclear if Fernandez Morel has been arrested or if he will be brought to the U.S. to face charges.

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