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Understanding and Avoiding Notario Fraud

As the Executive Action on Immigration, ordered by the White House in November 2014, continues to be challenged in court, scammers and fraudsters around the country are looking for creative ways to prey on law-abiding immigrants. Notario fraud is a white-collar crime that seeks to take advantage of certain cultural and language approximations, and is an unlawful activity that law enforcement agencies are currently paying close attention to.

In early April, New York City Mayor, Bill de Blassio, and the Attorney General of New York announced the creation of an investigative task force to crack down on notario fraud. Notario fraud is perpetrated by unscrupulous individuals who tell immigrants they are legal professionals who can help them advance their applications for asylum, work permits, residency, etc. These fraudsters talk about being notaries or notarios, and this misrepresentation is the decoy for their crime.

In many Latin American nations, notarios are attorneys who have been specially appointed by the courts to perform certain acts that other lawyers are not allowed to. In Mexico, for example, notarios can provide legal advice, register properties, record mortgages, certify divorces, execute wills, etc. To a certain extent, notarios are attorneys whose advanced education and ethical record merit their appointment as officers of civil courts. Yet, in the United States, notaries are simply state-appointed individuals who can witness the signing of documents.

Fake notarios in the U.S. prey on immigrants who may be confused by the two terms. Most of these fraudsters are not even public notaries, and they simply take money from immigrants before disappearing. New York is not the only state cracking down on notario fraud; in Nevada, a bill was recently passed to prevent deceptive advertising by fake notaries, and suggest the following tips to avoid notario fraud:

  • Check the background of legal professionals with the State Bar association
  • Consult with the Board of Immigration Appeals for additional information
  • Do not sign any documents unless it is fully understood
  • Make copies of all receipts and documents exchanged with legal professionals

For immigrants who live in San Diego, be wary of any legal professionals who claim to be notarios from other countries, and seek a second opinion from relatives, friends or other immigration law firms in San Diego and the surrounding communities.

For more information about notario fraud or help processing immigration paperwork, reach out to KS Visa Law. We are a trusted immigration law firm in San Diego, offering free consultations. Call us at 858-874-0711 and speak with a professional immigration attorney.

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