LA officials warn of scams targeting immigrants amid policy fears staff KABC logo
Saturday, February 11, 2017

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As immigration policies change, Los Angeles officials warned those seeking help to beware of scammers pretending to be attorneys and "notaries."

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said amid headlines about executive orders and proposed changes in immigration law, scammers were targeting those fearful of their immigration status.

Officials said scammers were advertising in store windows and on social media, offering bogus solutions.

The scammers sometimes charge for government forms which are free, and claim to have a special relationship with immigration officials.

Often times the scammer will charge the victim a large sum of money to knowingly apply to benefits for which they're not eligible for.

Officials said not only can the victim lose money in the scams, they could end up hurting their chances of obtaining legal status.

The district attorney's office offered the following tips to avoid becoming the victim of an immigration scam:

- If an attorney claims to be licensed in California, confirm his or her status by calling the State Bar of California's immigration hotline at (866) 879-4532.

- In California, it is illegal for a person to self-identify as a "notario," if they are not a licensed attorney.

- Visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' website to find free or low-cost legal assistance.

- Report fraud to the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at (800) 593-8222 or here.