District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announcing the indictment of a former paralegal on charges of defrauding immigrants in a green card scam.
Photo: Rob Abruzzese/Eagle
District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, alongside Ivan Arvelo, special agent-in-charge of Homeland Security Investigations for New York, announced the indictment of Zoya Shamilova, 38, of Sheepshead Bay on Tuesday.
Shamilova, a former paralegal at Shepelsky Law Group, faces charges for allegedly defrauding immigrants by falsely promising legal services.
Shamilova is accused of exploiting vulnerable individuals from immigrant communities, claiming she could assist with immigration services including green card applications and, in one case, temporary protected status.
The indictment alleges she charged victims, hailing from countries such as Poland, Ukraine, Serbia, India and Kazakhstan, fees ranging from approximately $4,500 to $16,250, without delivering any legal services.
The District Attorney described Shamilova’s actions as an attempt to enrich herself by targeting individuals striving to comply with federal immigration requirements. Special Agent Arvelo emphasized the severity of the allegations, noting Shamilova’s deceitful practices under the guise of legitimacy and her threats against clients who questioned her activities.
“We allege that this defendant tried to enrich herself by targeting individuals from our vulnerable immigrant communities as they attempted to comply with federal requirements,” Gonzalez said. “In Brooklyn, we are committed to protecting our friends and neighbors in all immigrant communities from those who attempt to prey on them.”
Shamilova was arraigned before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Kim Petersen on a 17-count indictment, including charges of third-degree grand larceny, practicing law without a license and first-degree scheme to defraud. She was released without bail, with a court return date set for January 17, 2024.
The alleged fraud surfaced after a client contacted Marina Shepelsky, the law firm’s founder, and asked about the status of her case, leading to the discovery of numerous documents related to the fraudulent actions. Subsequently, Shamilova was dismissed from the firm, and the firm then alerted law enforcement.