The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) is targeting scammers who offer harmful immigration services or overpriced notary services to people with limited English-speaking ability. The DCA has filed complaints against seven New Jersey businesses:
- Lili Pablo Agents, LLC, of Elizabeth
- RMS Services, Inc. (Ana Burgos) of Elizabeth
- RC Travel, LLC (Roxanna Ramirez Cedeno) of Newark
- “Beltra’s Agency“ (Beltra Gomez, Hector Gomez, Jr., and Henry Gomez) of Clifton
- Corazon Travel Agency—“Corazon Agency”(Rafael Garcia), of Paterson
- Helping Honduras, Inc.— “Helping the Immigrant Community” (Blanca Hilda Cardenas) of Union City
- Kingdom Vision Service Corporation—“Kingdom Vision Multiservice” (Denise Perez) of West New York.
Did you pay for any services from these businesses or individuals?
If you received services from these parties:
- Your immigration status may be in jeopardy.
- You should seek the immediate return of your important legal documents, such as your birth certificate.
- You need to talk to a lawyer about any pending immigration matters or other matters they may have handled for you.
- You may have a legal claim against them, which you may pursue in court, or a right to a refund or other relief as a result of the Attorney General’s action against them.
The DCA complaints claim the unauthorized practice of law and false advertising in connection with “notary public, immigration, income tax, and mortgage consultant services” offered in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. They state that these parties provided legal assistance to consumers when they were not authorized by the law to do so or overcharged for assistance with filling out forms.
Spanish speakers may be scammed because of the confusion about the difference between the Spanish word notario and the English word notary. In some Spanish-speaking countries, a notario is authorized to provide legal assistance. In the United States, a notary only has authority to witness documents. This means that a notary charges a small fee for witnessing another person sign a document. The fee a notary may charge is currently capped at $2.50. A notary is not permitted to provide legal advice or to charge a fee above the notary fee for filling out an immigration form or any other legal form. Most important, a notary is not authorized to file immigration papers with the USCIS or give legal advice on immigration, mortgages, income taxes, or any other legal matter.
If you received legal advice from these parties, it may be faulty. You should contact a lawyer immediately to get legal advice about any documents you may have filed or the status of any applications. Go to a New Jersey-licensed attorney who has a background in the area of law in which you need help. If you are a low-income consumer, you may also call LSNJ-LAW™, Legal Services of New Jersey’s statewide, toll-free legal hotline, by calling 1-888-576-5529 and checking to see if you are eligible. Hotline hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
If you have already spoken to a lawyer and you still need help filling in immigration forms because of language difficulties, look at the USCIS website. The USCIS permits certain people to become “BIA-Accredited Representatives.” These are people who work for BIA-approved non-profit, religious, charitable, social service, or similar organizations in the United States. They help with filling in immigration forms. They may charge a small fee for their services. A list of “BIA-Accredited Representatives” may be found by calling 1-800-375-5283 or going to Find Legal Services (from USCIS).
If you think you may have been defrauded by these parties or others, you may have the right to pursue your claims in court, but you must act promptly. A valid legal claim expires if it is not pursued within the time permitted by the law. If you were defrauded by one of these parties and you would like to make a claim for a refund with the Division of Consumer Affairs, call 1-800-375-5283, or e-mail the Division of Consumer Affairs at
This article is from the October 2011 issue of Looking Out for Your Legal Rights®.
This information last reviewed 10/25/11.