Cuomo Issues More Than 30 Additional Subpoenas Across Nyc In Expanding Immigration Fraud Investigation

NEW YORK, NY (September 21, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that - as part of his office’s expanding investigation into immigration fraud - he is issuing more than thirty additional subpoenas to organizations and individuals accused of engaging in fraudulent immigration business practices. The organizations and individuals allegedly pose as legitimate immigration service providers and provide legal services that they are not authorized to perform. The subpoenas issued today demand documents and testimony from the organizations and individuals within thirty days.

“This expanding investigation continues to uncover evidence that organizations and individuals disregard the law and give unauthorized legal advice to New York’s immigrant communities,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “The consequences of bad legal advice can devastate individuals and their families, threatening their citizenship and chances for a life in this country. Today’s subpoenas broaden our investigation to nearly 100 entities across the five boroughs and underscore our commitment to finding and prosecuting unauthorized service providers that disregard the rights of people trying to make this country their home.”

Subpoenas were issued today to the following organizations and several of their principals: Amanda C. Gillespie Inc., Mister Enry’s Consulting Services Ltd., Immigrants United Foundation, Immigration Specialist Helpline, Yours and Yours Only, Simply Different, Lian Tong Services, American Corporate Society, Mendez Accounting and Tax Service Corp., New York Novelties, North America Immigrant Services, Inc. d/b/a North America Immigration Consulting Corp., Omnipoint Naturalization Center, National Foundation for New Americans, Simply Done Immigration, Tamizdat Inc., Tanc. Inc., Worldwide Immigration Consultation Services, Baocheng Immigration Service Center, American Assessment Association, Xiu's Restoring Center, and JP Consulting Services

The subpoenas are the latest step in Attorney General Cuomo’s ongoing investigation into allegations that immigrants and their families are being targeted for fraudulent and unauthorized immigration-related services and, in some instances, with false promises of United States legal permanent residency and/or citizenship. The Attorney General previously issued more than fifty subpoenas to organizations and individuals across the five boroughs who are accused of engaging in fraudulent immigration business practices.

Further, last month, the Attorney General shut down three New York companies accused of providing these unlawful services to immigrant communities. As a result of Cuomo’s investigation, Immigration Solutions and Systems, Inc. of New York, Alisandra Multiservices, Inc. of Brentwood, Long Island, and All Immigration Services of Great Neck, Long Island are permanently barred from operating a business that provides immigration-related services and must collectively pay approximately $118,000 in penalties.

The Attorney General also filed suit in New York State Supreme Court against three additional companies providing legal services to immigrants which they were neither authorized nor accredited to do. Immigration Community Service Corporation of Manhattan, Professional Solutions Consultants (doing business as Reliable Clerical Services and Reliable Immigration Services), and Centro Santa Ana, both located in Queens, are charged with offering legal counsel to immigrants without being licensed attorneys or having the proper accreditation. Earlier this year, Cuomo also filed suit against Miriam Mercedes Hernandez, a businesswoman from Queens, for an immigration scam that targeted and defrauded over a dozen immigrants out of tens of thousands of dollars.

Under state and federal law, only lawyers or accredited representatives can represent individuals before immigration authorities. Further, under New York State law, it is unlawful to mislead or defraud any person in providing any service, including immigration-related services. New York law also requires anyone providing immigration services to comply with advertising guidelines, signage and surety requirements, as well as provide consumers with written contracts in both the consumer’s native language and English, detailing the services they will be providing and the cancellation policy. The Attorney General is authorized to seek an injunction, penalties of up to $7,500 per violation and restitution.

To further inform New Yorkers about their rights and educate them about immigration fraud, the Attorney General also announced a web-based education campaign, which includes links on how to avoid immigration scams and unscrupulous immigration service providers. The Attorney General’s website specifically provides a listing of individuals and organizations that are not legitimate immigration service providers and describes the various forms of immigration fraud to assist consumers in identifying the scams and prevent them from becoming a victim. In addition, consumers can find a listing of resources of legitimate organizations where they can obtain assistance, including accredited organizations, bar associations and attorneys providing pro bono services.

Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said: “We applaud the Attorney General’s continued efforts to stamp out immigration fraud in the State. There are individuals and organizations that claim to be legitimate immigration service providers, when in fact they lack any legal authority to provide such services. The Attorney General’s investigation and education campaign will certainly help New Yorkers learn about the law and the services they are entitled to receive, and help them avoid scams.”

The investigation is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Vilda Vera Mayuga and Assistant Deputy Counselor Elizabeth De León with the assistance of Investigators John McManus and David Negron, under the supervision of Civil Rights Bureau Chief Alphonso B. David and Counsel for Civil Rights Spencer Freedman.

If you have been a victim of immigration assistance fraud you are urged to contact the Attorney General through the Offices Immigration Services Fraud Unit Hotline at (212) 416-6149 or the website.