County prosecutors warned residents Friday that people seeking immigration assistance should be wary of advisers who promise work permits, citizenship and release from immigration detention, officials said.
“Victims not only get defrauded, but suffer irreparable harm to their legal status and loss of documentation as a result of these scams,” said Leonard Torrealba, deputy district attorney, in a video published Friday.
People seeking help with their immigration status may lose sizeable sums of money or even hurt their chances of obtaining legal status, according to the warning issued Friday.
“In the Immigration Consultant Scam, con artists target vulnerable immigrants by offering services that either are not delivered or don’t help their intended needs,” a news release noted. “These immigration consultants and “notarios” are not licensed to practice immigration law or authorized to give legal advice.”
Recently, the District Attorney’s Office filed charges against a woman who posed as an immigration consultant to bilk thousands of dollars from dozens of victims. She now faces up to 28 years in state prison if convicted on all counts.
In response, the LADA media staff offered the following tips:
- Consult with a licensed immigration lawyer.
- If someone claims to be a licensed attorney in California, confirm his or her status on the State Bar of California website at http://members.calbar.ca.gov/fal/MemberSearch/QuickSearch or call the State Bar’s immigration hotline at (866) 879-4532.
- Obtain a copy of the consultant’s identification along with a written contract and payment receipts.
Deputy District Attorney Leonard Torrealba explains how the scam works in this video: http://da.lacounty.gov/community/fraud-alerts/unlicensed-immigration-consultants-offer-empty-promises
The above information was shared with The Signal via a news release from the L.A. County D.A.’s Office.