Woman stole money from immigrants seeking visas, citizenship: prosecutors

A California woman posing as an immigration consultant defrauded clients seeking citizenship and visas by pocketing nearly $102,000 in fees without filing any paperwork, authorities said.

Helen Kennedy, also known as Helen Abdi, was indicted last month in Norfolk, Va. federal court on five counts of wire fraud, The Virginian-Pilot reported. She is currently out on bond.

Federal prosecutors said Kennedy targeted Iranians in online advertisements that promised her help in getting clients green cards, political asylum, visas and citizenship in exchange for a fee. Instead, she pocketed the money and never submitted paperwork to the federal government.

Kennedy's alleged scheme ran from June 2016 to January 2018. Her business, Professional U.S. Immigration Services, lacked a business license and had a fake address, authorities said.


Kennedy staved off clients by telling them immigration applications "took a long time to process," according to court documents.

In at least one case, Kennedy posed as an attorney, even though she lacked a law license. When customers complained about her services or lack thereof, she allegedly cut off contact with them.