By Shayna Jacobs
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A man accused of impersonating a federal immigration agent has been indicted on charges that he scammed three Dominicans seeking green cards, the Manhattan District Attorney said Wednesday.
Rafael Masso, 28, met with his defrauded clients at his Washington Heights home wearing a shield, holstered revolver and a pair of handcuffs and pretended to search federal databases at his personal computer, according to the DA.
Masso was allegedly paid about $24,500 by the three victims, who believed they'd be getting green cards in exchange for payments they made between September and December 2008.
Masso apparently fled to Miami and then Puerto Rico where he pleaded guilty to a separate grand larceny charge before his extradition to New York in 2010.
Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr. said half of the complaints received by the Immigration Affairs Program are similar scams involving individuals who pose as attorneys or immigration authorities.
"These defendants concoct schemes that defraud trusting victims," Vance said.
Masso was charged with grand larceny, impersonation and additional fraud charges. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail at his arraignment Wednesday afternoon.