Published May 7, 2018
The Office of the Illinois Attorney General recently filed civil lawsuits against 2 women representing themselves as providers of legitimate immigration services but who, according to the complaints, bilked victims out of thousands of dollars. According to the lawsuits, the women made false promises to unsuspecting undocumented immigrants who thought they were paying for bona fide services that would lead to the legalization of their immigration status.
In the first lawsuit, filed in Cook County, Illinois, the Illinois Attorney General charged Elizabeth Olvera, a volunteer and assistant life coach to members of the Chicago area’s Spanish-speaking community, with offering fraudulent services to obtain permanent resident status. According to the lawsuit, Olvera’s volunteer, life coaching work led her to meeting and gaining the confidence of her victims. Olvera allegedly scheduled private meetings with interested undocumented immigrants in a parking lot and restaurant near her volunteer workplace. At these meetings, it is alleged Olvera provided immigration counseling, completed fraudulent applications, and accepted their payments, usually $12,000 per customer, and with no written contract provided. Furthermore, Olvera allegedly claimed she had contacts within the federal government and promised that all the applications would be reviewed and submitted by an immigration attorney. The lawsuit alleges that Olvera’s actions amount to a fraud scheme and the unauthorized practice of law.
In the second lawsuit, filed in Winnebago County, Illinois, Armendina Romero – like Olvera, is alleged to have provided unlawful legal counseling and fraudulent services, including illegitimate applications under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Romero also unlawfully accepted thousands in fees without any written contract and without delivering on her promises.
“The defendants exploited the fear and confusion that many immigrants experience to take their money,” Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan said. “I urge people, regardless of their legal status, to contact my office for information on legitimate immigration help or if they have been the victim of fraud. My office does not ask for immigration status.”
In filing these non-criminal complaints, the Illinois Attorney General is seeking the imposition of civil penalties of $50,000 per violation on both women, with enhanced penalties for violations committed against senior citizens. It is not known at this time whether criminal charges will be filed against these women.
Yes, if an offered service sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and the best protection against being swindled is to first seek the opinion of a reputable, honest attorney.
PUBLISHED May 7, 2018– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2018, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois