When Langston Hughes wrote about a dream deferred (and asked whether it dries up like a raisin in the sun), he wasn’t necessarily thinking of scams. But many Spanish speakers found their immigration dreams deferred (if not ended) and their money taken by a Baltimore-based couple who promised help with immigration services.
The problem? Neither Manuel nor Lola Alban were qualified, or authorized, to provide immigration services. And, according to the FTC’s complaint, more than half of the immigration applications they submitted were rejected by USCIS. This was bad news for the people from El Salvador and Honduras who were targeted by the couple.
But there is some good news. The FTC announced today that a federal court has ordered the Albans to repay as much as $616,000 in refunds to the people who used their – ahem – services. The same order says that the couple may not provide or promote these services in the future.
So, how can you avoid people like the Albans? Here is a place to start. Learn how to find an accredited representative or immigration lawyer; learn how to check them out; and read more about who can not give you help. People like notarios, immigration consultants, Manuel and Lola Alban – and sometimes even well-meaning friends – can mess up your chance to immigrate. And cost you a bundle of cash. So find someone authorized by the U.S. government to help you.
And if you find a scam along your path: tell us. We would like the chance to stop them, and your report could make the difference.