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Scam artists selling "legal residence" to immigrants

News reports from around Kentucky and the nation have documented the increased fear of detention and deportation pervading immigrant communities. That fear has been spun into gold by scam artists who promise immigrants legal resident status and more.

The fraudsters cannot deliver or change an immigrant's legal status and are not qualified to offer legal services, but that does not stop them from preying on immigrants' fears, according to a recent news article.

The crime is called "notario fraud," the Chicago Tribune reports.

Though it appears to be on the rise, it is rarely reported by immigrants who fear arrest and deportation.

"There are few of us who dare to speak up (about notario fraud)," said a victim recently. "I'm not scared," she said.

The scam artists often present themselves as immigration lawyers and then demand hefty fees upfront, a spokesperson for the National Immigrant Justice Center said.

"We use the term 'notary fraud' just to refer to any non-immigration attorney providing legal advice," she said.

"People want help,” said an Illinois immigration attorney. “They hear they can get it fast and that they're eligible for it. They're looking for safety and security anywhere they can get it."

It is certainly understandable that the promise of fast, easy legal remedies would be appealing. But the reality is that those who seek permanent legal status in the U.S. or want to apply for a work permit or citizenship should avoid non-lawyers offering legal services.

You can speak with a qualified Louisville immigration attorney by contacting Vickerstaff Law Office, PSC.

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