DA Vance Announces Indictment of ESL Teacher for Stealing Thousands From Student Visa Holders


April 6, 2015

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of JENETTA FERGUSON, 58, an English as a second language (“ESL”) teacher, for stealing tens of thousands of dollars from student visa holders from Europe and Asia by misleading victims and falsely promising to provide them with green cards in exchange for cash payments. The defendant is charged in an indictment in New York State Supreme Court with Grand Larceny in the Third and Fourth Degrees, as well as Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree.[1] 

“Making it in a foreign country requires courage and determination,” said District Attorney Vance. “In this case, the defendant allegedly used her position as an ESL teacher to take advantage of students seeking to improve their English by falsely promising that she could obtain green cards for them. Because of the prevalence of scams involving phony immigration service providers, I encourage anyone who believes that he or she may have been a victim to call my Office’s Immigrant Affairs Unit hotline at 212-335-3600, regardless of immigration status.”

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, FERGUSON taught English as a second language at a school in Manhattan. Between March and September 2014, she is accused of approaching several students and falsely informing them that she could provide them with green cards in exchange for a fee, charging between $8,500 and $10,500 per person. The defendant’s alleged victims include individuals from Italy, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, and the Philippines, who were residing in the U.S. on student visas. However, instead of providing the promised documents to these individuals, FERGUSON is accused of pocketing the money, stealing more than $30,000 from at least six victims. 

No applications for green cards were ever filed on behalf of FERGUSON’s victims. Additionally, the defendant encouraged many of the victims to refrain from renewing their student visas, leaving many without adequate documentation once their visas later expired.

Assistant District Attorney Aaron Ginandes is handling the prosecution of the case, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kerry O’Connell, Chief of Trial Bureau 80, and Executive Assistant District Attorney John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division. Assistant District Attorney Rosemary Yu, Co-Director of the Immigrant Affairs Unit and the Financial Frauds Bureau, is providing additional assistance with the case, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Archana Rao, Principal Deputy Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Michael Sachs, Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau, and Executive Assistant District Attorney David Szuchman, Chief of the Investigation Division.

District Attorney Vance also thanked Detective Brian Little of the NYPD Manhattan South Grand Larceny Squad and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate for their assistance with the investigation.

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.

Defendant Information:

JENETTA FERGUSON, D.O.B 4/2/1957
Queens, NY

Charged:

  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 4 counts
  • Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count

###