Notario Fraud

As a Miami immigration attorney, I join with the American Immigration Lawyers Association in calling attention to the dangers of notario fraud.

No one should take advantage of immigrants who work hard and try their best to improve their lives and help their families.  Immigrants deserve protection from fraudulent notarios and the misleading advice of unauthorized immigration consultants.

Below is a brief FAQ on notario fruad, and how you help to combat instances of notario fraud.     

What is notario fraud?

Notario fraud happens when someone, who is not authorized to provide legal advice or services, convincingly pretends to offer help that will not be delivered after the victim has parted with their money.

Unauthorized immigration consultants may or may not have fraudulent intent.  Regardless of the intent, victims stand to suffer the same extent of damage from the wrong or incomplete advice of unauthorized immigration consultants.  It  is important to warn against relying on the advice provided by any individual or business.

Who is authorized to provide immigration advice?

U.S. law is very clear on this. Only an attorney licensed to practice law or an Accredited Representative in a non-profit organization recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals may provide immigration advice.

How else does notario fraud harm immigrants?

Notarios may provide wrong advice leading to the following: (a) missed opportunities for immigration benefits; (b) lengthy separation between loved ones when certain services are not filed on time; (c) being placed in removal proceedings; (d) being ordered removed in absentia, and (e) losing their hard –earned savings.

How has notario fraud changed/worsened with President Obama’s recent immigration executive action of November 20th, 2014?

Unauthorized immigration consultants are now positioning to prey upon immigrants. By using the news to instill a sense of urgency among immigrants, they are telling them to “fall in line” now to avail themselves of the benefits offered by the “new law” or risk losing out. It bears noting that as of today’s date, the specific details regarding President Obama’s executive action have not been released yet. Vulnerable immigrants and their families should beware, and not let scammers take advantage of them.

What redress do victims of notario fraud have?

Organizations such as the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Fight Notario Fraud project of the American Bar Association (ABA) are committed to helping victims seek redress against fraudulent notarios.  The independent website, www.stopnotariofraud.org, is an excellent site for victims to educate themselves and locate resources if they have been victimized.

What should people do if they know or suspect an instance of notario fraud?

People should immediately notify the authorities and concerned organizations about known or suspected fraudulent notario activities.  People should not be afraid to come forward.

Victims may: anonymously report notario activities to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s Consumer Sentinel and state consumer protection authorities; file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office in the state where the fraud is perpetrated; report unauthorized practitioners to the bar association in their state and finally, report suspected criminal notario activity to the police, which will ultimately assist in potential civil as well as criminal prosecution.

For more information about notario fraud, you may visit www.stopnotariofraud.org, or contact Miami immigration attorney Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305)895-2500 or visit our website at www. mmurraylaw.com 

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