In December, our legal team highlighted the story of several Southern California farmworkers who were scammed by an individual falsely posing as an immigration lawyer. Unfortunately, these types of fraud schemes are all too common. In February, the Los Angeles Immigration Fraud Unit announced charges against more individuals for scamming immigrants.
Alarmingly, Los Angeles County prosecutors have brought charges against people who defrauded at least 300 immigrants since the start of 2017. Altogether, prosecutors contend that these immigrants were defrauded out of nearly $3 million. At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we want to ensure that everyone is able to avoid these scams.
Four Tips to Avoid Immigration Scams in Southern California
1. Make Sure You are Working With a Licensed Attorney
If you are seeking immigration law guidance, you should always look for a licensed attorney. When you set up an initial consultation with a lawyer, make sure that they have the credentials that they claim that they do. A lawyer can give you the information that you need to check and confirm that they have a valid license to practice law.
2. Do Not ‘Pay’ in a Strange Way
Legal professionals will not ask you to pay in a strange way. Any person presenting themselves as a ‘lawyer’ who insists that you pay the fees in an odd manner may be scamming you. In many cases, immigration scammers attempt to receive an untraceable or difficult-to-recover payment from their victims. For example, they may request a large cash payment, they may seek payment from Western Union, or they may even request to be paid with an iTunes gift card. Remember, USCIS has set forth clear fee instructions for how application and processing fees should be paid.
3. Beware of So-Called ‘Secret’ Programs
An experienced immigration attorney in Los Angeles can analyze your case, explain the immigration process to you, prepare a strong application on your behalf, and protect your rights. However, a real attorney does not have access to any “secret” programs nor can they get you results because they “know a guy”. If you are being made lofty promises based on supposed secret knowledge or claimed special influence with high ranking government officials, you are likely being scammed.
4. Get Proof Your Papers Were Filed
Finally, you should never hesitate to ask for proof that your immigration papers were filed. When anything is submitted in your case, you have the right to seek the government filing receipt or some other form of trustworthy confirmation. In many cases, scammers never actually file anything on behalf of their ‘clients’. They simply take the money and run, thinking that a desperate immigrant will have nowhere to turn for justice.
Contact a Reliable Immigration Lawyer Today
At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we are committed to providing reliable immigration law guidance to our clients. To get immediate assistance with an experienced California immigration lawyer, please call us at our Los Angeles law office today. Consultations are confidential.