Loma International Business Group in Baltimore has been forced to shut down after details emerged of an alleged immigration scam operating out of the office, according to the Better Business Bureau.
Spanish-speaking immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador were victims of the scheme, as they forked over money to the business with the understanding that it would file their immigration forms and help them gain legal immigrant status.
Often desperate for legal residency and without a strong understanding of English, many immigrants have fallen prey to these scams. Criminals have posed as authorized immigration experts or even government agents to lure victims, and the immigrants are often afraid to report these crimes to US officials because of the risk of deportation.
“Of course these victims feel like, ‘we can’t go to the police because our immigration status may be in question,'” Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler explained to WJZ-TV.
As a result of a recent surge in immigration scams, the Federal Trade Commission has launched an awareness campaign to help immigrants discern who can help them and where to report these types of crime. Educational materials are available in English, Spanish, Chinese and Korean.