INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indianapolis woman was charged Monday after prosecutors say she scammed people trying to get immigration documents.
Judith Palma, who operated under the name Roma Smith, took $67,856 from 31 people, telling them the money was for down payments for residency documents, according to a release.
Palma has been charged with 17 counts of theft.
According to court documents, Palma told the victims she had a contact in the Indianapolis Immigration Office, named Ms. Warner, who could help undocumented individuals receive their U.S. Permanent Residency Cards and other documents.
She is believed to have gained their trust by meeting them through local churches. The churches' pastors were also victimized by Palma, prosecutors said, as they used their influence over the congregation to endorse Palma's services.
“Anyone with concerns regarding immigration status is urged to seek services from a licensed immigration attorney,” Prosecutor Terry Curry said. “We understand recent federal policy changes have heightened the urgency to resolve outstanding immigration issues, but such conditions may make individuals easier targets for scam artists. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”