Colorado immigrant aid business penalized $2.5 million in fraud case

immigrant rightsColorado Attorney General John Suthers won a $2.5 million judgment against an immigrant aid service he filed a lawsuit against for defrauding hundreds of people who needed federal forms.

The Colorado Springs Non-Profit Corporation went by the names Immigration Center, U.S. Immigration Center, ImmigrationHelpLine.org and U.S. Government Helpline, according to the complaint filed by Suthers. Its clients came from throughout the United States

The AG's office charged three people for deceptive trade practices. Owner Alfred Boyce marketed and sold immigrant document aid through the names "Immigration Forms & Services," "Maydene Media" and "Liberty Legal Services," the state said. Operator Deborah Stilson was charged with routinely advising consumers under the trade name "Liberty Legal Services." Charles Doucette regularly received consumer complaints and managed salespeople for the Immigration Center under the name "Immigration Forms and Documents."

Doucette and Stilson were ordered to stop operating their business or any other related to immigration services.

The owners and operators kept the business going using several forms of fraud, including advertising an "expert team of professionals" to prepare and file documents through three websites, www.immigrationhelpline.org, uscis-ins.us and www.usgovernmenthelpline.com, the state AG said.

The Immigration Center sold forms available for free through the USCIS website, and often sold the wrong forms as well. Phone employees asked for upfront payments over the phone of $300 to $700 via check, direct deposit or credit card. Salespeople would then arrange a phone conference with "document specialists," supposedly immigration law experts, to handle their documents. But the "document specialists" had no prior government experience, the AG's office said.

Phone representatives were paid on commission and the pay was connected to the sales they made. To ensure they were paid, sales people often exaggerated to consumers how many times they were successful with applications and the company's affiliation with the U.S. government.

As a result of submitting the incorrect legal forms or the required filing fee for USCIS, immigration services rejected the forms sent by the Colorado immigration service group. Complaints about the non-profit began in and outside Colorado in 2007.

Three calls and two e-mails to both the Washington, D.C. and Western Region U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services were not returned.

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