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D.C. prosecutors crack down on fraudulent immigration attorney

4 Apr

WASHINGTON — Prosecutors across the country say a growing type of fraud is targeting the vulnerable immigrant community — people claiming to be immigration attorneys. Now D.C.’s top prosecutors are busting a man they say ruined lives.

The civil suit filed against Mardoqueo Sanchez and his Unlimited Technologies and Services Corporation alleges he falsely claimed to have legal expertise more than 900 times. He faces a fine of $948,000.

D.C. Assistant Attorney General Richard Rodriguez says his office learned about the “notario fraud” through a nonprofit organization that works with the immigrant community and heard complaints about bad legal advice.

“Typically, the individual will represent that they’re an attorney, or, in Spanish, an ‘abogado’ or ‘liceciado,’ which are terms that signal to people that they’re an attorney,” Rodriguez says.

Under federal law, people cannot provide legal assistance with immigration matters unless they are licensed attorneys or accredited individuals under federal law.

“We had one consumer who, because he was given the wrong advice on extending his status, he lost his job and he couldn’t apply for unemployment because he didn’t have legal status,” Rodriguez says.