Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office has shut down some fraudulent “notarios” and unauthorized immigration consultants in south Texas.

The fraudulent notario operations were shut down in the Rio Grande Valley.

A Hidalgo County district court granted the State’s request and issued injunctions against four defendants.

Those defendants are:

  • Veronica G. Garcia and Cecilia H. Solis, doing business as Garcia & Solis Services – permanent injunction;
  • Ana Isabel Lumbreras, doing business as Montemayor Services – permanent injunction;
  • Marilia Luz, doing business as Immigration Help – permanent injunction;
  • Jairo Romanovich, doing business as Romanovich Charitable Service Inc. – temporary injunction.

Each of the defendants have been charged with violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Notary Public Act.

The court ordered the four defendants to pay civil penalties for unlawfully representing that they were legally authorized to process immigration cases before federal authorities.

Only licensed attorneys and organizations accredited by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals may offer immigration consulting services.

Texas law authorizes notaries public to witness the signing of legal documents, but specifically forbids them from providing immigration services unless they hold a separate license to practice law.

In a press release, Abbott’s office said that “Scam artists have long exploited the misunderstanding between the term ‘notary’ and the similar-sounding Spanish term ‘notario público’ which is used in Latin America to describe highly experienced, specialized attorneys.

Former or current clients of an authorized legal services provider are urged to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at 800-252-8011 or at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.