LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — An uptick in immigration scams has local community leaders on alert. They say “notarios” are preying on undocumented people looking to get legal status in the country.
“It becomes very dangerous with immigrants because one wrong move on an immigration application, one wrong move on a form, this could put an individual in jeopardy of deportation,” said Leo Murrieta, executive director of Make the Road Nevada.
It’s a scam that’s very common among the undocumented community. They call themselves “notarios,” who promise to help folks resolve their immigration problems, but end up doing the opposite.
“In Latin American countries, a notario is seen as a ‘judge,’ depending on what part of Latin America you are in,” explained Murrieta.
He notes this problem spikes with every new White House administration because people are hopeful for a change in immigration policies.
“There is really little or no path to legalization for the majority of undocumented people, so offering them hope is what these bad actors prey on,” Murrieta said.
Some red flags to watch out for are pop-up services and being put on a wait list, a registry or being told “get in while it’s good.”
“We are talking about people who are running fly-by-night operations,” said Murrieta. “They will open a shop on Eastern, close after taking people’s money, leave, then open on Maryland Parkway six months later to take money from more people under a different name.”
It’s a false sense even he fell for.
“I myself am a victim of notario fraud when I tried to naturalize myself in 2007,” he shared. “I trusted my church, and I ended up spending over $6,000 over three years.”
The best recommendation is to seek help from a reliable attorney or community-based organization because becoming a victim can hurt your wallet, and even cause your deportation.