Notario Scams Continue in South Texas

McALLEN, Texas (CN) – A South Texas judge shut down three notaries public for practicing immigration law without a license.
     The “notario” scam is notorious in South Texas. In Mexico, a notario can fulfill most of the functions of an attorney. That’s not so in the United States. For decades, unscrupulous notaries have preyed upon immigrants and Spanish-speakers by advertising themselves as notarios, and charging for legal services.
     The Texas attorney general this month sued Veronica G. Garcia and Cecelia H. Solis dba Garcia & Solis Services; Ana Isabel Lumbreras dba Montemayor Services; Marilia Luz dba Immigration Help; and Jairo Romanovich dba Romanovich Charitable Service, in Hidalgo County Court.
     Attorney General Greg Abbott charged the notarios with deceptive trade and violating the Notary Public Act.
     A state judge this week granted Abbott’s request to shut down all the defendants and their businesses except Jairo Romanovich’s, whose case is pending. But he has been restrained from doing immigration work.
     The defendants were ordered to pay civil penalties “for unlawfully representing that they were legally authorized to process immigration cases before federal authorities,” Abbott said in a statement.
     “Texas law authorizes notaries public to witness the signing of legal documents – but specifically forbids them from providing immigration services unless they hold a separate license to practice law. Scam artists have long exploited the misunderstanding between the term ‘notary’ and the similar-sounding Spanish term ‘notario público,’ which is used in Latin America to describe highly experienced, specialized attorneys,” Abbott said.
     Abbott claims his office has shut down 75 businesses for unauthorized legal services since he took office in 2002.

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