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Continuing the Fight Against Immigration Services Fraud

March 20, 2012

 The following post appears courtesy of the Civil Division's Consumer Protection Branch. In June 2011, the United States government announced a nationwide crackdown on frauds related to immigration services.  Immigration services fraud schemes, sometimes called “Notario” scams, prey upon vulnerable individuals who are in this country legally and trying to abide by the rules.  Scammers often promise expert legal help (even though they’re not experts or lawyers) or say that they will speed up the immigration process (even though they can’t) or claim to be part of the government (even though they’re not).  They take upfront fees and often leave people worse off.  The Consumer Protection Branch of the Department of Justice is continuing to root out and prosecute these immigration services scams.  Just last month, federal prosecutors announced the indictment of three people on fraud charges related to a Missouri company known as Immigration Forms and Publications. According to the indictment, the company charged consumers hundreds of dollars up front for help in filling out and filing government immigration forms.  In sales calls, company sales staff falsely identified employees as “immigration agents,” fraudulently claimed that the company handled “overload” calls for the government, and wrongly said that the money customers paid the company would cover government processing fees for the forms.  Despite these claims, the indictment alleges, the defendants often did nothing beyond mail out blank immigration forms that anyone can get from the government for free.  The defendants and the other employees did not have any particular expertise in immigration matters and customers who sent completed forms to USCIS were surprised to learn that the fees they already paid the company did not go toward government processing charges.  As we continue to fight against criminals who prey upon immigrants trying to play by the rules, we urge you to learn more about avoiding immigration services scams by visiting the United States Citizen and Immigration Service’s website.  If you or someone you know has been the victim of an immigration services scam, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission and officials in your state.

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