Arlington woman accused of impersonating immigration lawyer, defrauding clients of $700K

An Arlington, Virginia, woman has been charged with falsely posing as an immigration attorney and defrauding clients of about $700,000, according to a federal grand jury indictment.

Patricia De Oliveira Souza Lelis Bolin, a 29-year-old Brazilian national, is accused of pretending to be a lawyer to help foreign clients get E-2 and EB-5 visas into the country.

Investors are eligible to apply for the EB-5 visa program if they make the necessary investment, usually a minimum of $1 million, in job-creating projects in the U.S., according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia.

Lelis Bolin is facing wire fraud, unlawful monetary transactions and aggravated identity theft charges. If convicted, the maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison, and 10 years for unlawful monetary transactions.

In September of 2021, Lelis Bolin, who isn’t a licensed attorney, sent a retainer agreement to someone who hoped to get EB-5 visas for their parents. That person initially paid over $135,000, with the understanding that Lelis Bolin would use it for a Texas real estate development project that qualified under the EB-5 program.

However, according to the indictment, the money went into Lelis Bolin’s personal bank account. She’s accused of using it for a down payment on an Arlington town house, bathroom renovations and personal expenses such as credit card debt.

To get more money, Lelis Bolin is accused of showing someone a U.S. District Court pleading that had a false case number and featured her as the litigating attorney, the indictment said. She’s also accused of forging signatures and making fake receipts tied to the Texas project, and creating false personas associated with it, sending emails using the false personas in an attempt to get more money.

Lelis Bolin convinced friends to pretend to be employees with the Texas investment fund during phone and video calls with an alleged victim, according to the indictment.

When someone threatened to stop sending her money, Lelis Bolin allegedly threatened to have their parents removed from the U.S., according to the indictment.

As of Friday, Lelis Bolin wasn’t in law enforcement custody. If anyone has information about where she may be, they’re urged to contact the FBI’s Washington Field Office at 202-278-2000 or the FBI’s tip line at 800-225-5324.

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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