EXPERTS WARN AGAINST ‘NOTARIO’ IMMIGRATION FRAUD

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
April 2, 2013

CHICAGO, IL – With a draft of the immigration reform bill expected to roll out soon, the National Chair for Consumer Protection and Unauthorized Practice of Law warns the public about ‘notario’ fraud, a growing problem in the immigrant community.

A notario is one who has obtained a notary public designation, which allows him to witness the signing of documents and administer oaths.

The problem begins when these notarios tell their immigrant clients that they can offer legal representation when they are not licensed to do so.

Attorney Maricar Madrid Crost said it is illegal to state or imply that that one is a licensed attorney or act one if not so.

“The problem is notarios may file an application for you which is not warranted and then you end up in removal proceedings,” Madrid-Crost said, “ Not only do you pay unnecessarily, you may also get deported.”

With about 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US, Madrid Crost cites that these fraudulent notarios prey on unsuspecting individuals who want to legalize their status.

“It’s amazing, the problem is very big,” Madrid-Crost said, “It’s all over the place, it’s not done only in the apartments or in the store fronts, it’s already perpetrated in the internet, and it can be done also abroad.”

Madrid-Crost adds that since fraudulent notarios are not recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals, chances are they could provide bad legal advice to some clients.

“The best way to know if the person is authorized to represent you is by asking: are you licensed as an attorney in the United States? Or do you have certification from the Board of Immigration Appeals, so those two things.” Madrid-Crost said.

Victims of notario fraud can visit http://www.stopnotariofraud.org/ to file complaints and for more information.

Contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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