For immigrant communities in the U.S., there is a little-known threat – disguised as a resource – that can swindle people out of their money and put them at risk of deportation. Notarios are people who falsely advertise to the immigrant community that they can help with immigration issues and other matters of law, even though they have no legal training and are not authorized to perform these services. Moreover, they routinely exploit and defraud members of the immigrant community, and can ​make an immigration situation worse – jeopardizing future immigration relief or putting someone at risk of immediate removal.

Public Counsel created this web page to help raise awareness about this harmful scam and to empower members of the immigrant community to protect themselves and their community. Here’s what you need to know about notario fraud.

What is Notario Fraud?

  • “Notarios” are individuals who FALSELY represent that they are authorized to offer legal advice, or services, concerning immigration law or other matters of law.
  • “Notarios” routinely exploit members of immigrant communities by defrauding them and placing them at risk of deportation.

How do Notarios harm the immigrant community?

  • Fail to perform contracted work
  • Collect payments and disappear
  • File meritless applications, placing the applicant at risk of removal
  • Incorrectly fill out applications, causing applicants to lose their immigration benefits or barring them from obtaining future relief
  • Overcharge their clients for work they are not authorized to perform.

Where does the confusion regarding Notarios come from?

  • In some Latin American countries, “notarios públicos” have similar educational training and professional duties as lawyers.
  • In the United States, however, a “notario” or “notary public” is ONLY authorized to witness the signature of forms and may NOT provide legal advice or services.
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