A.G. Schneiderman Shuts Down Immigration Services Companies For Defrauding Haitians Impacted By 2010 Earthquake
Companies Illegally Provided Fake Immigration Services, Falsely Promising Earthquake Victims Legal Immigration Status
NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that his office has shut down two fraudulent immigration service companies for targeting and defrauding Haitian nationals who were affected by the devastating January 2010 earthquake. The entities defrauded the victims of thousands of dollars by illegally providing immigration services they were not authorized to provide and by misrepresenting a new law that granted Temporary Protected Status ("TPS") to qualified Haitian nationals.
"These con artists preyed on vulnerable families in the aftermath of Haiti's devastating earthquake, by misrepresenting the law and providing fake immigration services. Today, these organizations are being held accountable for their fraudulent actions and their brazen disregard for the people they are purporting to help," said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. "It is unconscionable that these companies defrauded victims of the Haiti earthquake just to make a quick buck. We will continue working aggressively to root out fraud wherever it exists, and that includes bringing those who prey on the immigrant community to justice."
The entities defrauded the victims of thousands of dollars by illegally providing immigration services they were not authorized to provide. Specifically, these entities and individuals, who are not attorneys or accredited by the federal government, lured Haitian immigrants with the false promise of securing them legal immigration status. Moreover, they charged victims hundreds of dollars without determining whether the customers would have been eligible to obtain the TPS immigration benefit at all or could have obtained a waiver of fees from the federal government.
Under the terms of the agreements, Rincher's Bookstore a/k/a Rincher Associates, Inc. a/k/a Rincher Associates & Bookstore a/k/a Rincher's Multi Services, Haitian American Entrepreneur's Group, LLC a/k/a Delrin Associates, LLC, and Profimax, Inc. and their owners Deslande Seixas-Rincher a/k/a Dislande Rincher, Sharlene Seixas-Rincher and Fred Pinard are required to shut their businesses, are permanently barred from operating a business that provides immigration-related services, and must collectively pay more than $25,000 for their illegal practices. These corporations are required to notify all former and current clients in writing that they are no longer providing any immigration-related services, return client files, and retain all records regarding any complaints.
Additionally, in June 2010, the Attorney General's Office initiated a lawsuit against Chay Pa Lou Community Center, Inc.; Delegue Tax Consultant, Inc. and Jean Michel. The Court recently issued a preliminary injunction in the case. While the lawsuit is pending, Defendants are barred from, among other things, providing any immigration services or legal advice, from practicing law or holding themselves out to be practicing law, and from destroying or disposing of any records relevant to the case.
Lisa Schreibersdorf, Executive Director of Brooklyn Defender Services, stated: "As we mark the one-year anniversary of the Haitian earthquake, we continue to witness a community that remains extremely vulnerable while attempting to survive the atrocities in Haiti. I commend the Attorney General's Office for fighting to prevent the most vulnerable of immigrants from being victimized for a second time by shutting down businesses that can further harm a community already in dire need of assistance."
Kathleen A. Masters, Executive Director of CAMBA Legal Services, stated: "We applaud the Attorney General's Office for ensuring that fraudulent and predatory entities do not target and take advantage of these particularly vulnerable families who are seeking potentially life-saving immigration relief in the wake of the tragic earthquake in Haiti."
All New Yorkers should be aware of organizations and not-for-profits providing immigration services for exorbitant fees and without proper accreditation. A list of free and low-cost immigration services that are authorized to provide immigration services can be found through the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) at http://www.justice.gov
The cases are being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Sandra Abeles and Vilda Vera Mayuga and Assistant Deputy Counselor Elizabeth De León, with the assistance of Investigators John McManus and Angel LaPorte, under the supervision of Chief Counsel for Civil Rights Spencer Freedman.
If you have been a victim of immigration services fraud, please contact the Attorney General's Immigration Services Fraud Unit Hotline at (866) 390-2992 or visit www.ag.ny.gov