Why is Notario Fraud Such A Big Deal?
The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs recently announced it had cited twenty-eight businesses in the state for allegedly defrauding customers by charging for immigration services that only attorneys or the government are able to provide. According to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office, the Notices of Violation seek a total of $326,000 in civil penalties for allegedly “defrauded consumers by offering immigration services that they are not legally permitted to provide.”
Many of these businesses are located in the northern part of New Jersey, including Hudson County. State officials allege that these businesses have charged unsuspecting customers upwards of $1,500 for services that weren’t authorized to do.
Chances are you may have heard about these events in the news recently, but you aren’t sure what it all means – especially “notario” fraud.
What Is Notario Fraud?
Notario fraud is a scam in which individuals who are not licensed to practice immigration law in the United States take advantage of consumers (mostly Spanish-speaking) by offering legal assistance they are not permitted to provide. Those who claim to be able to help usually end up taking the victim’s money without providing the necessary services legally. Then there are cases where the company providing the illegal services was unaware that what they were doing was actually illegal.
The latter ends up happening because those who are permitted to perform such legal services in Latin countries such as Mexico believe they can do it in the U.S. However, these individuals would need to pass a more rigorous examination process in order to perform these services. The only individuals who are authorized to practice immigration law are licensed attorneys and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accredited representatives.
Why Is This Important?
It’s important that a qualified individual handles immigration matters in the U.S., otherwise a fraudulent immigration filing can jeopardize someone’s chances of gaining or renewing legal status. It’s doesn’t matter if the individual providing services knew if what they were doing was illegal or not. Someone’s life can change drastically.
Victims of notario fraud can face permanent separation from their family, not to mention other damaging effects on their physical, emotional, financial, and psychological well-being. Those seeking the services of a notario publico often have extremely limited time and money, and the illegal services being provided can consume both of those things. More importantly, reversing the damage that was done is nearly impossible.
If you are in need of immigration services and looking for the help of a notario publico, there are a few steps you should consider to avoid a fraudulent situation:
- Always confirm that the person offering legal assistance is a licensed attorney or a BIA accredited representative in the U.S.
- Whether your legal service provider officially acknowledges their role as an attorney or accredited representative to the government by submitting a Form G-28 (for immigration petitions and applications) or EOIR-28 (for immigration court proceedings)
- Anyone who claims that an attorney is not needed for immigration proceedings is wrong
Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone
If you are an owner of a notario public and are being penalized for performing illegal services to your customers, the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone is here to help. For thirty years, Attorney Anthony Carbone has been helping immigrants throughout New Jersey with their legal needs. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.