Tacoma man ordered to pay for role in 'Notario Scam'; experts warn of immigration fraud
TACOMA, Wash. -- A warning has gone out for what's being called the "Notario Scam." It's happening more with the growing worry over detentions and deportations. In one case, a Tacoma man accused of offering fake immigration services is now being ordered to pay $50,000.
For weeks, demonstrators have gathered at the Tacoma detention center protesting potential deportations. Miles away, at a Tacoma travel agency, a man who calls himself a missionary, has been accused of a scam.
Attorneys say Ismael Delgado advertised himself as a notario.
“A ‘notario’ in the State of Washington is an unauthorized immigration practitioner,” said lead attorney Greg McLawsen.
They said for $2,000, Delgado filled out the immigration paperwork to help a couple with their green cards. But he wasn't licensed or accredited.
“He was not competent to do this. He did not know what he was doing,” said Deborah Niedermeyer, one of the attorneys for the victims.
The couple were not even eligible for a green card so Delgado put them legally in harm's way, according to attorneys.
“Somebody in that situation is risking getting a deportation proceeding initiated against them. It's extremely extremely risky,” said McLawsen.
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project said it's important to get authorized services from attorneys or providers who are licensed to provide immigration services.
“Right now, we're concerned about it because there’s so much uncertainty in the community and because the consequences when the people get the wrong type of help. It could be pretty severe,” said Executive Director Jorge Baron.” “When people file information with the government, they are exposing themselves. Especially if wrong paperwork is filed, it may lead to being displaced and deportation proceedings.”
The City of Seattle has sent out warnings in several different languages. It’s warning the community to beware of fraud against immigrants. That includes offers of “deportation insurance” or fake “deportation notifications.” If you ever receive a suspicious offer, letter, or demand for payment regarding someone’s immigration status, contact the Attorney General Consumer Protection Division at www.atg.wa.gov/file-complaint.
Legal experts say people looking for help with their immigration paperwork should check with the American Immigration Lawyers Association. The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and several other nonprofits in the community can also provide assistance.