Fight Notario Fraud
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The Fight Notario Fraud project is dedicated to putting an end to immigration consulting fraud, with three main goals:
(1) To provide attorneys, and other individuals, with information on how to take action against notarios. This includes:
a. How to report immigration consultants who are engaging in the unauthorized practice of law to state and local authorities.
b. How to report immigration consultants to state bar associations for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
c. Possible theories that might form the basis of a civil suit against attorneys complicit in immigration consulting fraud.
(2) To provide a depository of pleadings and other forms that might be useful in reporting, or pursuing a case against, an immigration consultant.
(3) To facilitate the referral of victims of immigration consulting fraud to litigation and consumer protection attorneys interested in representing them, pro bono, in civil litigation against fraudulent immigration consultants.
Unscrupulous “notarios” or “immigration consultants” have become an increasingly serious problem in immigrant communities throughout the United States. Often using false advertising and fraudulent contracts, notarios hold themselves out as qualified to help immigrants obtain lawful status, or perform legal functions such as drafting wills or other legal documents. Unethical notarios may charge a lot of money for help that they never provide. Often, victims permanently lose opportunities to pursue immigration relief because a notario has damaged their case. The Commission is working to provide immigrant communities with information about this dangerous practice, and to support advocates who represent victims.
Unfortunately, notario fraud is usually identified after the fact, when an immigrant has already suffered an adverse event as the result of a consultant's services (e.g., a denial of temporary protective status, or a removal order), and seeks the assistance of a licensed immigration attorney. Although there are specific procedures for reopening removal proceedings based on deficient performance of authorized counsel, many attorneys are unaware of what actions can be taken against consultants to hold them accountable and deter future abuses.