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Immigrants Must Be Careful Of Post-Election Fraud Scams

Post-Election Fraud Scams

Following the aftermath of the 2016 elections, immigration attorneys as well as federal and state officials have warned immigrants against a rise in scams by so-called notarios and other criminals playing on fears of deportation among U.S. immigrants.

In New York, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement that con artists are attempting to take advantage of concerns about possible crackdowns on undocumented immigrants.

The Florida Bar warned against seeking immigration advice from unqualified persons after attorneys in that state received a flood of calls from individuals concerned about their status following the presidential election in November.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) also warned immigrants to avoid seeking legal help from persons using the title notario​ or notario publico or other foreign-language translations of the title Notary. In many other countries, notarios are authorized to provide legal services similar to attorneys, unlike U.S. Notaries, who have limited authority. Many unethical individuals exploit the confusion over these different roles to take advantage of unsuspecting immigrants by charging large amounts of money for fraudulent or ineffective immigration services.

In late November, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its “Avoid Scams” webpage offering guidance to immigrants.

Immigrants should never seek legal advice or representation from a self-styled notario. Many states prohibit Notaries from advertising using the title notario to help deter this type of fraud. 

The NNA has information available on its website for finding legitimate immigration assistance in the United States, along with information on state laws governing Notary advertising and Notaries offering immigration-related services.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.


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