Four Passaic County businesses including two Paterson “Notarios Publicos” have been cited and fined a total of $40,000 for allegedly defrauding Spanish speaking consumers by offering immigration assistance services that they are not legally permitted to provide, according to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
The two Paterson businesses cited were Martinez Travel Group located at 96 Market Street and Detex Corp doing business as Navarro Tax Services located at 93 Market Street. SGI Professional Services Corporation located at 570 Clifton Avenue in Clifton and Universal Tax & Travl [sic] Services Corporation located at 208 Washington Place in Passaic were also cited.
Each of the companies received violation notices that carry a $10,000 penalty.
“These businesses allegedly misled consumers into believing that they could provide immigration assistance when they were not permitted to by law,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. “These businesses ultimately may have hurt those looking for immigration services by delaying their access to legitimate immigration assistance.”
The four businesses allegedly took advantage of consumers by playing on a cultural confusion. The businesses are known as Notarios Publicos, a phrase in Spanish-speaking countries that indicate the business can provide legal representation, prepare legal documents on behalf of clients, and provide legal advice.
In the United States public notaries cannot legally offer or perform these services, according to the state.
Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Steve Lee said the businesses offered their services for prices that ranged from $600-$1,000 per client. Some “Notarios Publicos” falsely claimed they can assist in obtaining green cards or work visas and claimed they function as immigration consultants, according to the division.
“The Division of Consumer Affairs will not tolerate businesses that exploit the immigration concerns of New Jerseyans,” Steve Lee, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said. “We will act whenever vulnerable communities are targeted by frauds and scams looking to take advantage, in order to earn illegal profits.”