NEWARK – The Office of the Attorney General and State Division of Consumer Affairs filed administrative complaints against three companies accused of falsely advertising that they were authorized to prepare immigration documents on behalf of clients. Only attorneys, or certain other accredited representatives authorized by the federal government, may file legal documents such as immigration forms on a client’s behalf.
Additionally, the state alleges that one of the companies filed immigration forms on behalf of a naturalized US citizen, whose daughters later were threatened with deportation because the documents were insufficient and filed incorrectly.
“The victims in these cases are legal immigrants seeking to extend their visas or apply for citizenship, as so many millions have done since the founding of our nation,” Attorney General Paula T. Dow said. “Unfortunately, scammers see those with limited English proficiency or a limited awareness of American law as easy prey. They falsely claim to be attorneys, or pretend they are authorized to file immigration documents on behalf of a client. As a result, legal immigrants lose money or even find themselves facing deportation due to documents filed fraudulently or not filed at all.”
The Division of Consumer Affairs filed complaints today against the following immigration services providers: Lili Pablo Agents, LLC, of Elizabeth; RMS Services, Inc., of Elizabeth; and RC Travel, LLC, of Newark.
The complaints were announced as part of “Combating Immigration Services Scams,” a nationwide initiative in which the Office of the Attorney General and State Division of Consumer Affairs have joined with the Federal Trade Commission, the US Department of Justice’s Civil Division and Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), several state Attorneys General, and a number of city and county law enforcement authorities. The initiative was announced today in Washington, DC and at regional centers across the country. Nationwide, the initiative includes lawsuits and local administrative actions against immigration service providers, as well as new consumer education efforts in multiple languages, and increased cooperation among enforcement partners.
“We’re taking a stand against unscrupulous businesses who seek to exploit the confusion many legal immigrants have over certain cultural and linguistic differences, such as the definition of a notary public versus the definition of a lawyer,” Thomas R. Calcagni, acting director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs, said. “Unscrupulous immigration service providers falsely claim they are authorized to file immigration documents or provide other legal services. Their victims pay for what they think are honest services, and end up getting ripped off, losing precious savings and valuable documents such as birth certificates or passports, or even facing deportation due to the filing of incomplete or fraudulent paperwork.”
The matter against RMS Services, Inc., began with a complaint that a consumer filed against the company with the Division of Consumer Affairs on March 14. The consumer, a naturalized citizen of the United States who was born in Colombia, sought in May 2009 to file Petitions to Remove Conditions of Residence for her two daughters, then ages 14 and 19.
The state’s complaint alleges that Ana Burgos, who worked at RMS and held a commission as a notary public, told the consumer she could help with the preparation and filing of the necessary documents, even though she was not an attorney. Burgos allegedly accepted $450 and filed the documents.
However, because the documents prepared by Burgos were allegedly insufficient, the daughters’ rights to live and work in the United States were in danger of being revoked by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The mother then retained a legitimate attorney, and paid $500 in attorney’s fees and a filing fee of $545, to resolve the matter.
The complaints against Lili Pablo Agents, LLC, and RC Travel, LLC, resulted from undercover investigations by the Division of Consumer Affairs. The state alleges that both companies violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and Advertising Regulations, by offering to prepare immigration forms, despite not being authorized to do so.
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