Lisa Madigan files immigration fraud lawsuits

June 9, 2011

Madigan joins FTC initiative in combating immigration services scams

Online Staff Report

CHICAGO – Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) today filed two lawsuits against Chicago area immigration servicers for accepting more than $30,000 from

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan

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.

She 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

“The immigration process is often intimidating and confusing, which is why many people seek assistance,” 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, Madigan 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 claims 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.

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 Madigan’s office:

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

One Comment

  1. Daniel Robert Smyth

    June 10, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Contracts need to be in plain English. If you need a lawyer to read it for you, the contract is more of a fraud, or the attempt to confuse the signer. Your native language? Go to your native land and get a transcript. The way to get around making copies of every legal document in each native language is to use one single language for all documents. The burden of being able to read official documents should remain on the reader, and not the provider of the document.

    I thought that it was illegal to be in the USA without the proper paperwork. Illegal aliens should get no protection at all from the US. Government. Before you come to this country your papers need to be in order. My relatives came here from Ireland. They needed proper paperwork and recommendations from an employer. My grandmother was from Lithuania. When I asked her if she knew how to speak Lithuanian, she proved that she could, and was so pleased that I had asked her. When I asked why she did not speak it normally, and why my dad didn’t know it, she said that her family learned and used English when they came here, and that it was considered an insult to speak any language but English in public. The best way to learn any language, is to use it all the time, and she did! Today we almost apologize to everyone that everything is in English. In Chicago, not too long ago, there was a man who jumped 2 6′ fences to urinate on the electric train tracks and died a horrible quick death. His family sued and won a case that there was no Korean sign saying that it was dangerous to urinate on the electrical train tracks. The city of Chicago paid millions for that stupidity!

    We simply cannot be expected to please everyone, and we leave ourselves open to lawsuits all the time when we cater to one group because of their skin color or language more than any other group!

    At legal entrances to the USA there should be forms available for needed documents. If you don’t know English, it should be up to you that YOU bring an interpreter with you until you DO know English! That’s the way it was, and my relatives who learned English because they were thankful that the USA gave them a home agreed 100%.

    When I went to Mexico I learned enough Mexican Spanish to get me in and out of the country. Mexicans that we met were happy that we bothered to learn as much as we did, because they did not know much English at all. When I went into Saudi Arabia and many other SWA nations I was sure to know enough of their language to be able to read or speak myself out of trouble. I learned enough to be polite and rude, and knew that it was respect that would get more good wishes.

    Sadly, that so much respect is not here for so many that come here. It’s because we cater to everyone like we need them here for more than free labor!

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