CA Man Who Posed As Immigration Lawyer Charged With Defrauding Consumers

Two weeks after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, along with a number of immigration advocates, warned all consumers about the possible increased risk of immigration fraud following the recent presidential election, his counterpart in California charged the owner of one such operation that allegedly defrauded countless immigrants. 

California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Wednesday her office has filed 22 felony charges against Oswaldo Rafael Cabrera, the owner and operator of Los Angeles-based Coalicion Latinoamericana Internacional (CLI), for his part in defrauding consumers looking for assistance on their immigration cases.

According to the complaint [PDF], since at least 2012 Cabrera posed as an attorney and provided legal consultations and services — charging up to $9,000 per case — despite lacking any accreditation or license to practice law.

To attract customers, Cabrera used YouTube, self-published books, as well as mainstream English- and Spanish-language media outlets to advertise his services as an immigration lawyer with a proven record of helping immigrants.

Once customers hired him, Cabrera allegedly misled them about the status of their cases, misinformed them about their eligibility for immigration relief, and completed immigration forms improperly while continuing to collect victims’ money.

If a customer asked for a refund, the complaint alleges that Cabrera ignored the requests or lied to the consumer, keeping the often thousands of dollars.

The AG’s office claims that Cabrera’s work on immigrant cases caused irreparable damage, leading to the deportation of some consumers.

Additionally, the complaint accuses Cabrera of providing immigration counseling services without having completed the necessary registration with the California Secretary of State. As a result, the AG’s office claims that Cabrera, along with his wife Maria Marcelina Rodas, conspired to violate the Immigration Consultants Act.

In all, the complaint alleges 22 counts of grand theft, attempted grand theft, attempted perjury, and conspiracy to engage in the unlawful practice of law.

Anyone who has received immigration assistance from Cabrera or his company and believes they may have been defrauded should contact the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs immediately by calling 323-881-7099.

As with New York AG Eric Schneiderman’s alert last month, the California AG’s office has provided a number of resources and alerts on issues that impact immigrant communities.

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