El Paso Woman Who Posed as Immigration Employee Sentenced to Prison

n El Paso woman was sentenced in a federal court in El Paso to 87 months in prison for wire fraud and impersonating a federal employee.

According to court documents, Ana Maria Hernandez, 53, portrayed herself to be a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) employee and defrauded numerous undocumented noncitizen victims and their family members by falsely representing that she would process their immigration applications for a substantial fee. Hernandez’s victims provided her with the documentation required to file and adjust their immigration status. She was not an employee of CIS and never took any actions to adjust the victims’ status. Investigation revealed that Hernandez had amassed thousands of dollars of unexplained wealth within the 18 months coinciding with her fraudulent activity. Following her arrest on Jan. 23, 2023, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas and the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) El Paso Division began receiving calls from dozens of potential victims in Hernandez’s fraud scheme.

Hernandez pleaded guilty in April to 10 counts of wire fraud and one count of impersonation. In addition to her 87 months imprisonment, Hernandez was ordered to pay $123,275 in restitution and a money judgement order of $19,870.

“This defendant misled vulnerable migrants for financial gain by convincing them that she was a federal employee who could assist them on their path to U.S. citizenship,” said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas. “My office will prosecute anyone who fraudulently takes advantage of our federal agencies and their beneficiaries, and we will ensure their victims are afforded proper reparations.”

“The message is clear: Have no doubt. Individuals who impersonate a federal officer and exploit trusting individuals for their own personal gain, will be held accountable for their crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Francisco B. Burrola for the HSI El Paso Division. “HSI will leverage its investigative abilities in order to identify, arrest and prosecute these piranhas in society.”

HSI investigated the case.