Police: Fake lawyer scams business owners

Pedro Magana Estrada faces several charges

HOUSTON - A man who pretended to be a lawyer has been accused of scamming thousands of dollars out of unsuspecting clients, investigators said.

Pedro Magana Estrada, 44, has been charged with felony theft, fraud and falsely holding oneself as an attorney.

League City police said they started investigating Estrada in April after business owners reported that they thought they were victims of theft and deceit.

Police said they quickly learned that the Houston Police Department and the Harris County Precinct 6 Constable's Office were also investigating Estrada.

Detectives said Estrada introduced himself to business owners as a licensed attorney and offered his services for a fee ranging from $250 to $10,000.

Business cards Estrada handed out indicated that he handled cases in corporate, criminal, entertainment, family, immigration and maritime law, officials said.

Investigators said they received complaints that Estrada disappeared or didn't complete work.

One of those complaints came from a man who owns a restaurant. Police said he told them that Estrada was a regular customer and he hired him when he sought permanent residency in the United States. Investigators said that man told them he paid Estrada $20,000 and then figured out Estrada wasn't who he claimed to be.

Police said Estrada is not a licensed attorney and that he may have been deceiving people since 2009. Investigators said they know of about 20 alleged victims.

After charges were filed, Estrada went to Mississippi, where he posed as a preacher and psychologist, police said.

Estrada was arrested in Bentonia, Miss., on May 18 and was extradited to Harris County.

Detectives said more charges may be filed.

Copyright 2012 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.