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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    PARADISE (San Diego)

    USCIS, ICE, DOJ and FTC to Launch a Multi-Agency Initiative

    TODAY— USCIS, ICE, DOJ and FTC to Launch an Unprecedented Multi-Agency Initiative at 1:00pm (EST)
    Watch live here.

    Watch USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas and colleagues from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and the Texas Attorney General announce the launch of a multi-agency initiative to combat immigration services scams through enforcement, education and continued collaboration with federal, state and local government partners. To find out more go to

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  2. #2
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    PARADISE (San Diego)
    I.C.E. News Release

    June 9, 2011
    Washington, DC

    National initiative to combat immigration services scams
    DHS, DOJ and FTC collaborate with state and local partners in unprecedented effort

    Quick Links
    View a video about avoiding immigration scams.
    Watch the live news conference.

    WASHINGTON – The U.S. government unveiled today a multi-agency, nationwide initiative to combat immigration services scams. The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are leading this historic effort.

    This initiative targets immigration scams involving the unauthorized practice of immigration law (UPIL), which occurs when legal advice and/or representation regarding immigration matters is provided by an individual who is not an attorney or accredited representative.

    "We are dedicated to protecting vulnerable immigrants from those who seek to exploit them," said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas. "Through our sustained outreach, enforcement and education efforts, and our close collaboration with our federal, state, and local partners, we will provide the communities we serve with the help needed to combat this pernicious problem."

    This initiative is set upon three pillars—enforcement, education and continued collaboration—designed to stop UPIL scams and prosecute those who are responsible; educate immigrants about these scams and how to avoid them; and inform immigrants about the legal immigration process and where to find legitimate legal advice and representation.

    "This coordinated initiative targets those who prey on immigrant communities by making promises they do not keep and charging for services they are not qualified to provide," said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. "We are attacking this problem both through aggressive civil and criminal enforcement and by connecting qualified lawyers with victims who are trying to navigate a complicated immigration system."

    The Department of Justice, through United States Attorneys' Offices and the Civil Division's Office of Consumer Protection Litigation, is investigating and prosecuting dozens of cases against so-called "notarios." In the last year, DOJ has worked with investigators at the FBI, ICE, and USCIS, and with state and local partners, to secure convictions—with sentences up to eight years in prison and forfeiture and restitution of over $1.8 million. This is in addition to the many actions at the state and local levels that have been filed against individuals and businesses engaged in immigration services scams.

    ICE has also long been pursuing immigration services fraud cases in part through its 18 Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force offices across the country. In a recent case in West Palm Beach, Fla., ICE Homeland Security Investigations agents arrested an individual on May 26 who had posed as an attorney and processed more than 3,000 fraudulent immigration applications.

    "Notarios and other illegal immigration service providers take advantage of unsuspecting immigrants trying to navigate the immigration system," said ICE Director John Morton. "ICE will continue to work with our federal, state and local partners to combat notario fraud and protect the integrity of the legal immigration system."

    Meanwhile, FTC has made it easier for consumers to alert law enforcement about these scams by creating a new Immigration Services code in the Consumer Sentinel Network, its online consumer complaint database. "This is a central location for consumers to report complaints and for our law enforcement partners to find and share information about scams," said FTC Commissioner Edith RamÃ*rez.

    Sentinel, as the network is called, is a secure online database that holds more than 6 million consumer fraud complaints. Shared with more than 2,000 law enforcement entities including ICE, DOJ and now USCIS, it has become the primary repository for complaints involving allegations of immigration services scams. Sentinel will serve as an investigative tool for USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security officers, and will bolster communication between organizations on immigration services scam-related cases.

    The initiative's education component will focus on empowering immigrant communities to avoid unscrupulous individuals and businesses engaged in UPIL. USCIS's efforts will be primarily aimed at providing immigrants with the information they need to make informed choices when seeking legal advice and representation on immigration matters, and reminding them that The Wrong Help Can Hurt.

    Today, USCIS unveiled a new brochure, a poster, public service announcements for use on radio and in print publications, billboard and transit ads, and a new Web resource center that includes a video. All printed materials are available in English and Spanish, and materials in 12 additional languages are available online. To bolster this outreach effort, DOJ's Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and FTC will produce and distribute educational materials for different populations that may be affected by immigration services scams.

    As part of the initiative's emphasis on providing qualified legal assistance to this vulnerable population, EOIR's Recognition and Accreditation program, DOJ, USCIS, and FTC are working together to increase the number of EOIR-recognized organizations and accredited representatives, particularly in underserved areas. Organizations and representatives seeking to provide lawful immigration services must be recognized by EOIR.

    "EOIR is hard at work to increase access for our government partners, nonprofit organizations, and individuals in immigration proceedings," said EOIR Director Juan P. Osuna. "Through a combination of efforts, including reporting fraud, educating the public and dedicated outreach, we are bolstering our efforts toward growing a force of legitimate legal services providers and getting rid of fraudsters."

    EOIR is improving its Recognition and Accreditation Program by increasing communication with the public, providing easier application processing, and giving timely, accurate information to the public regarding which organizations have representatives available to represent individuals in proceedings.

    DOJ's Civil Division and Access to Justice Initiative are involved in an effort to train more attorneys to handle the cases of immigration fraud victims. As a result of these efforts, DOJ announced that nongovernmental organizations, working with local partners, will organize a pro bono legal clinic in Baltimore later this summer to assist victims of an enforcement action announced by the FTC today. Driven by a continuing dialogue with DOJ, the City Bar of New York, the New York State Bar Association, the New York Office of the Attorney General, the Katzmann Study Group, and nongovernmental organizations, a legal training program will be launched this summer in New York City to expand the pool of lawyers who can assist in immigration matters.

    For more information about USCIS's education initiative, please visit or follow us on Twitter, YouTube and the USCIS blog, The Beacon.

    A list of federal, state and local immigration services cases and additional information regarding EOIR's Recognition and Accreditation Program are available on DOJ's website.

    To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

    Media Contacts

    Department of Justice

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

    Federal Trade Commission

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.

    ICE is a 21st century law enforcement agency with broad responsibilities for a number of key homeland security priorities. For more information, visit To report suspicious activity, call 1-866-347-2423.

    U.S. Dept of Homeland Security ... gtondc.htm

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  3. #3
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    PARADISE (San Diego)
    Gov't Aims to Crack Down on Immigration Scams

    Updated: Thursday, 09 Jun 2011, 9:41 AM MST
    Published : Thursday, 09 Jun 2011, 9:41 AM MST
    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON - The federal government is warning immigrants about scammers pledging too-good-to-true legal help for immigration cases.

    The initiative, announced Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department, is part education program and part crackdown on people offering immigration legal services who aren't recognized by the government to do so.

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is leading the effort to warn immigrants that lawyers and advocates offering to help them with their cases must be accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals. It decides how immigration law is interpreted and implemented.


    Homeland Security

    U.S. Dept. of Justice

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

    Board of Immigration Appeals ... x-06092011

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  4. #4
    Gov't Aims to Crack Down on Immigration Scams

    Washington – Federal officials have a warning for immigrants considering too-good-to-true legal aid: The wrong help can hurt.

    Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said Thursday the government is launching an initiative aimed at shutting down scammers posing as bona fide immigration attorneys or others who can help shepherd an immigration application through a complex system.

    The initiative, Mayorkas said, is part education program aimed at immigrants looking to file for visas and other immigration benefits and part crackdown on people offering immigration legal services who aren't recognized by the government to do so.

    "The primary goal is to provide immigrants with the information they need to make wise choices," Mayorkas said. And those unscrupulous fraudsters targeting immigrants are becoming a renewed target of federal civil authorities and law enforcement.

    "If your actions violate federal criminal law, we will prosecute you, and if we can, we will put you in jail," said John Morton, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    The nationwide effort will focus initially on seven cities where the problem of immigration fraud has been particularly troublesome: Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, Fresno, Calif., Los Angeles, New York, and San Antonio.

    Authorities will be handing out pamphlets and urging immigrants to go to a new federal website for detailed information on how to contact legitimate immigration attorneys.

    "We want to be sure we protect this very vulnerable immigrant community," said Denise Frazier, head of USCIS' Atlanta office. "We want people to be sure to know how to seek the appropriate immigration advice."

    The initiative will also allow federal law enforcement access to information from the Federal Trade Commission's consumer fraud complaint database, making it easier for authorities to potentially spot scammers.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney General Tony West, who heads the Justice Department's civil division, said the effort was primarily targeting people who identify themselves as "notarios" or "notarios publicos" Spanish terms that often refer to lawyers in Latin America. Such scammers, he said, often will profess to be lawyers when they are not.

    One of the stiffest challenges federal officials face is educating the immigrant community about the dangers of paying unlicensed people for help. The victims, officials said, often are trying their best to comply with the law.

    And when immigrants are scammed they often wind up turning to illegal business, such as fake ID sellers, to stay in the country, said Brock Nicholson, the special agent in charge of Atlanta's U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

    "They're out more money and then could be approached by even more nefarious individuals from the black market," he said.

    West and Morton said immigrants often don't learn they have been scammed until their case is resolved. And countless fraud cases go unreported every year.

    "Many victims of notario fraud are too afraid to come forward," West said. "They suffer in silence."

    A notable exception, West said, was a U.S. military service member who hired a supposed immigration lawyer in the Los Angeles area to help his father with an immigration court hearing. It was only at the father's court date, West said, that the family learned they had been deceived, at the cost of $500. The suspect in the case, West said, had stolen the identity of a legitimate California attorney and has been sentenced to a decade in prison. West did not identify the victim in that scam.

    While it's unclear exactly how many fraud cases are perpetrated every year, West said his office prosecutes about three or four annually. Morton said his office has completed seven fraud cases in the past year and another seven are in various stages of prosecution.

    As the new focus on immigration fraud was being announced, authorities in Los Angeles said they arrested a man on suspicion of scamming would-be Mexican immigrants and filing bogus paperwork for businesses hoping to win temporary work visas for workers.

    The U.S. attorney's office said Thursday Carlos Alberto Silva, 29, was arrested at his Canoga Park business by immigration agents.

    Prosecutors say Silva submitted fraudulent immigration petitions from legitimate businesses looking for visas for unskilled immigrant workers and then charged would-be immigrants up to $4,000 to seek work visas.

    Silva's attorney, Douglas McNabb, said Silva would plead not guilty.

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