Lisa Madigan Sues Huntley “Illegal Immigration Service Provider” who Defrauded Customers of $25,000

A press release from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office:

ATTORNEY GENERAL MADIGAN FILES IMMIGRATION FRAUD CASES

Madigan Joins FTC Initiative in Combating Immigration Services Scams

Chicago – Attorney General Lisa Madigan today filed two lawsuits against Chicago area immigration servicers for accepting more than $30,000 from consumers but failing to help them with their immigration status.

Madigan, along with the Federal Trade Commission, filed the suits as part of a national crackdown against illegal immigration service providers found to have defrauded consumers across the country.

Madigan filed

  • suit in Cook County Circuit Court against Martha Fernandez, of West Chicago, and Corrianne Chairez, of Chicago, and
  • filed a second lawsuit in McHenry County Circuit Court against Calvin Meziere, of Huntley,

for using a variety of misleading and deceptive tactics to convince consumers that the government was considering their requests for a work permit, permanent residency or U.S. citizenship.

Lisa Madigan

“The immigration process is often intimidating and confusing, which is why many people seek assistance,” Attorney General Madigan said. “But unfortunately, much of the help offered is expensive and illegitimate. That’s why it’s so important to know the warning signs of an immigration scam and where to find honest assistance.”

In her suit against Meziere, the Attorney General alleges the defendant duped a group of immigrant workers in 2009 into paying him large upfront fees to help them obtain work permits and thus the ability to travel freely in and out of the United States.

Madigan alleges Meziere charged the consumers for credit checks, improving their bad credit history and for fake citizenship exams – all steps he falsely claimed were necessary to gain a permit.

Consumers reported to Madigan’s office losing at least $25,000 to Meziere in the scheme.

Madigan’s suit against Fernandez and Chairez alleges they conspired to solicit upfront fees based on promises of helping two immigrants with their immigration paperwork, charging them more than $10,000 for work that was never completed. Despite Fernandez’s promises of a refund, it never arrived.

The Attorney General is asking the court to enter a permanent injunction against the three defendants barring them from providing immigration services in Illinois.

The lawsuit also asks the court to order the defendants to pay restitution to consumers, civil penalties of $50,000 for violating the Consumer Fraud Act, and an additional $50,000 for each violation committed with the intent to defraud. Assistant Attorneys General Andrew Dougherty and Vivian Velasco Paz are handling the case for Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau.

Attorney General Madigan urged the public to learn how to identify potential immigration scams and find legitimate sources for help with the immigration process. By state law, immigration service providers should:

Provide you with a written contract in English and your native language
Provide you with a three-day right to cancel your contract
Return all documents to you upon demand
Register with the Illinois Attorney General’s office

Finally, immigration service providers may not provide legal advice or accept fees for legal advice unless they are licensed attorneys. To check the status of a service provider or to file a complaint, please call the Attorney General’s office at:

Chicago 1-800-386-5438
Springfield 1-800-243-0618
Carbondale 1-800-243-0607
Spanish-language Hotline: 1-866-310-8398


Comments

Lisa Madigan Sues Huntley “Illegal Immigration Service Provider” who Defrauded Customers of $25,000 — 3 Comments

  1. I believe this story could lend well to Sheriff Nygren and States Attorney Bianchi to help those in McHenry County who would like to ‘legally’ remain in the U.S. and begin their legal process to citizenship, safely.

    Because both offices have developed a positive relationship with a ‘sister city’ in Mexico and have ties to leaders within the McHenry County Hispanic community, I believe it is imperative that the following simple facts be made clear to ALL immigrants.

    (I only choose the Hispanic community within my comment as this is my area of knowledge and within the premise that indeed McHenry County has a widely growing Hispanic populous.)

    Of Importance to those seeking “Legal Status” they should know how to protect their hard earned money. Thus, I offer the following;

    1) It should be known that any attorney who tells an applicant that he or she may leave the boarders of the U.S. without explicit permission of ICE, “While they are awaiting their ‘Green Card,’” is wrong.

    This should be an immediate red flag to the applicant.

    Once an applicant files for his or her “Green Card,” the applicant CANNOT leave the boarders of the United States, without prior written consent from Federal Authorities such as ICE.

    Any Attorney, who is legally looking out for you, will tell you this fact.

    2) Although an ‘applicant’ may have had a prior “Illegal Entry” into the U.S; there is a “Grandfather” clause, for lack of a better term, that allows the applicant who is “NOW” trying to enter the U.S. the legal way, to still get that VISA to come to the U.S. to work, legally.

    Do NOT lie during your interview……Chances are, ICE is already aware of your prior illegal entry. So tell the truth. As always, the truth will set you free.

    First, applicant MUST admit when questioned by U.S. authorities that in fact they had made prior illegal entry.

    Then, you can pay a fee and continue with your legal process. An ‘admitted’ prior illegal entry will not mean you cannot successfully continue with your VISA process.

    I cannot tell you what today’s price is, but, the last time I was involved in this line of work, the fee to “Grandfather” your new application given any prior illegal entry was $1,800.00.

    In other words, tell the truth on your application and during your face to face interview, and pay the ‘fine.’

    Then, chances are good you will be allowed a second chance to enter legally and work legally.

    Next, given a rather lengthy wait, (8) years in not unusual, but you’re at least working and living in the U.S. legally and without fear of deportation, you can “Earn” your Perm Residency Card without fear of reprisal.

    However, this process is only afforded those who go back to their home country of origin, THEN go to the U.S. embassy in their home country and begin the paper work and pay the proper fees.

    I think both Sheriff Nygren and States Attorney Bianchi can provide an excellent service to not only foreign workers, but also to help local employers comply with the laws of our land, all the while, helping to keep any lawyers or others, who say there is any easy road to staying within the US, and coming and going across boarders “at will,” out of the pockets of unsuspecting people looking for a better life.

    Let’s help each other via knowledge. Times are tough for everybody, from every place.

    A ‘tip’ to any employer’s out there reading this.

    Allow your worker who you really want to keep on board and help by Sending your valued employee back home, ask them to go the US Embassy near their home town to start the paper work for a “Work Visa” for the current year.

    A picture is painted that if an illegal worker goes back home and makes proper legal application for a work VISA, this person will have to “Go to the back of the line and could be years before they can come back.”

    This simply is not the truth. I know many that have completed the process as I am laying out and are back to work in the U.S within the year.

    The key is honesty during the ‘face to face’ phase of the interview process.

    Provide your worker with a notarized letter stating that you, the employer, would like to ‘sponsor’ the valued immigrant for Perm Residency once they arrive back on the job in the U.S.

    THEN, go to an attorney who specializes in Immigration Law.

    Some families are trying to remain in the U.S. seeking Political Asylum due to the drug wars in Mexico. I do not know of any families that have gotten the U.S. courts to go along with this argument at this time.

    This is where Community Leaders and local law enforcement can work hand in hand to help these hard working, family oriented people.

    Good luck!

  2. This action of Attorney General Lisa Madigan should be a warning to those illegal immigration service providers to think twice before victimizing other people. But I just hope there can be a harsher penalty for them other than just paying back. Those who are also seeking “legal status” should be vigilant and careful in seeking for immigration assistance so they won’t fall prey to these illegal immigration service providers.

  3. Good Points Mark;

    The other issue of importance is that when an American business owner finds a really good immigrant worker, and values he or she, the business owner not only owes it to himself but also needs to help his valued employee ‘long ‘term.’

    That would mean taking the hard step of sending the employee back home, perhaps with the financial support that will allow the worker to go thru the proper legal channels back in his or her country of origin, so that a legal work VISA can be secured for the worker to legally return

    Now keep in mind, a ‘Work Visa’ and “Green Card” application are two totally different permits, A ‘Visa’ is a renewable annual or bi-annual permit for example with the worker having no intent of going thru the expensive and arguous process of “Perm Residency Status.”

    “Work Visa’s” must be renewed every year and require the worker to return home after his or her current work VISA expires, then, reapply for the following year, and so on. These folks can leave the US boarders and must leave the boarders at the end of their current VISA TERM.

    It’s those seeking “Perm Residency” who CANNOT leave the boarders of the United States once they begin this special process that then, leads to Citizenship. A person one they obtain a “Green Card” or Perm Residency card, have 10 years to apply for, then become a US citizen. Should they not take the Citizenship examinations and classes, they can just renew their 10 year “Green Card” for a second ten year term, THEN, after this second 10 year term, the immigrant will automatically become a US Citizen upon completion of the proper forms and what else….? PAYMENT of the fees!

    The other issue of importance for ALL “American Employers” to consider are the rather large ‘fines’ and penalties the US Government can and should impose upon those who are hiring illegal workers. You who employ illegal workers, are ‘rolling the dice’ each and every day.

    When that ICE van pulls up in front of your business, be prepared to empty your cash register box…..But that is about all that will happen to you, and this is where the US Government has and continues to fail our young people looking for jobs during college and HS years.

    Many say “Well, our kids wont take these jobs of sweeping floors or cleaning toilets or scooping cow patties on the farm… wanna bet?

    Summer land scaping jobs, or working at the local car dealership detailing cars were jobs guys back in the ‘day’ love to do….. we got cool cars, they were clean, and we had money for our honey!!

    Im all for helping those looking for a better life, this is how most of our families came to this great country of ours. But as you say Mark, there ‘should be harsher penalty more than just a financial payback,’ plain truth is Mark, there just isn’t one.

    And, unfortunately, its only the honest immigrant and employer who decide to ‘step up’ who will pay it anyway. All the while, the illegal worker and employer go on and on hoping ‘today’ isn’t their ‘day.’ Percentage wise, due to our governments lack of ability or desire to help our own American families in need of jobs, this cycle will go on and on.

    I don’t think locking up those who are trying trying to admit to a prior illegal entry and willing to meet the requirements for a ‘second chance’ is the answer. We all know ‘transgressions’ in our American Justice system is rectified via one thing and one thing only, “MONEY!”

    I can live with that…. What I can’t live with are those who are here illegally and American business owners are KNOWINGLY employing them, yet paying nothing.

    And its not just the ‘illegal issue’ that must be dealt with. I personally know of restaurant owners who not only hire illegals to work the kitchen…but KNOWINGLY hire UNDER AGE illegals to work the kitchens and bus tables.

    RIght out in the open as the business owners attend the local Chamber meetings and are mainstays in our communities.

    I think in all honesty, the only way to fix this problem is multiphased The first phase is to stop the bleeding at the boarders. Lock things down, stop the infiltration, THEN, begin the round up and collect the money from the illegal employers…You will see how fast the illegal entries begin to dry up.

    One final point. “Work Visa’s” are controlled and the annual allotment is decided upon regions in most need of workers. The US Government is seemingly cutting back on VISA alotments.

    But I do not believe any human beings should be subject to ‘preditorial’ behavior just because they have, and lets be honest, broken our immigration laws.

    The ‘dirty’ lawyers and those who promise people a service they know to not be viable or of any value to the immigrant, should be sent packing back to the home country along with the immigrant and see how it feels!

    We have some find “homegrown’ legal minds in McHenry County, and some dedicated public serveants as well. Let’s see what they have to say about this topic. Seemingly nobody wants to tell it like it is and things just go on and on Mark.

    Thank you.

    (Excuse any mis wording, I am working with new contact lenses and can’t see things in perspective just yet 🙂 )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.