Immigrants in California Being Targeting by Fraudulent Immigration Lawyers
In 2000 Oliver Ortega, an immigrant from Guatemala, hired Jesus Lozano to assist him in filing a wage claim against a previous employer. Ortega said Lorenzo seemed to be a legitimate lawyer, stating that Lorenzo carried professional looking business cards advertising multiple legal services. Ortega claims he paid Lorenzo $400 in cash to begin work, but shortly after receiving the money Lorenzo stopped answering Ortega’s calls and showing up for meetings. Suspicious, Ortega later discovered Lorenzo never filed the claim and was in fact not actually a licensed immigration lawyer.
Ortega is just one of several hundred immigrants in California victimized each year by people fraudulently posing as lawyers claiming to provide legal immigration advice and help with immigration bail bonds in California. Immigrants are seen as easy targets because of the vulnerable state they are in. Fearful of being deported, illegal immigrants rarely report unlawful activity and therefore make themselves easier prey for those deceitfully giving immigration advice. Immigrants also face cultural and language barriers which can make it easier for scammers like Lorenzo to talk their victims into giving them cash for a service they never end up providing.
In December of 2014, Lorenzo was finally arrested after two undercover agents for Los Angeles County proved he had agreed to work on yet another immigration case. He was charged with three misdemeanor criminal counts, including practicing law without a license. Lorenzo’s arrest was the result of efforts put forth by a new task force that targets those who victimize immigrants. This task force is led by the L.A. County Department of Consumer Affairs.