Last week Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the formation of a new joint task force to target those who prey on immigrants. “Our joint city-state anti-fraud task force will stop fraudsters in their tracks and provide a safe place for immigrant fraud victims to come forward,” said Mayor de Blasio.

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The joint task force will focus on rooting out a variety of abuses targeting immigrants, but particularly the unauthorized practice of law, commonly known as “notario fraud,” or “immigrant service provider fraud.”

New York State’s Immigration Assistance Service Enforcement Act establishes protections for immigrants who use the services of individuals or businesses that falsely represent themselves as certified legal advisers for citizenship and other issues. The law went into effect on February 6, 2015, increased penalties and added new ones, both criminal and civil, for violations of the Act.

The task force will cover:

-Enforcement and/or investigations against immigrant service providers who may be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

-The task force will establish an information pipeline to connect on-the-ground reports of immigration fraud hotspots to city agencies and the Attorney General’s Office to stop problematic service providers or practices.

-As part of Cities United for Immigration Action, New York City is working in close collaboration with partner cities to develop a national model to combat immigration services fraud.

“As New Yorkers prepare for the administrative relief that President Obama announced last November, it’s critical that New York steps up its enforcement of unscrupulous notarios who take advantage of our communities,” said Javier H. Valdés, co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York.