Man poses as licensed attorney, scams immigrants

HOUSTON—A man was accused of scamming immigrants by posing as an actively-licensed attorney, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

According to court documents and the State Bar of Texas, Jose William Vega was an attorney, but lost his license when he surrendered it to the state on Feb. 16, 2016.

Vega, 52, was still operating the “Jose W. Vega” law firm, investigators said.

The 52-year-old was arrested on Dec. 5 after a woman paid him $1,000 in Jan. 2017 for helping her to obtain an immigration permit. The woman grew suspicious of Vega’s services, and eventually contacted police, according to investigators.

“This was a scam in which he preyed on people who are new to this country and, while trying to arrange their affair legally, are particularly vulnerable to fraud,” said Assistant District Attorney Christine Lu of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

Vega is charged with unlawful practice of law, a third-degree felony that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.