FROM:
Stephen P. Gibbons, Assistant District Attorney   CONTACT PERSON:
Martha J. Donohoe, Deputy District Attorney
Consumer Protection Unit
(408) 792-2571   For Release on April 22, 2003   UNBONDED IMMIGRATION CONSULTANT ARRESTED ON FELONY THEFT CHARGES   Santa Clara County District Attorney George W. Kennedy today announced that Carlos Fernandez, 40, of San Jose, CA, was arrested on felony charges of six counts of grand theft involving over eight victims.  Mr. Fernandez offered to perform immigration services for Spanish-speaking acquaintances that he met at parties or children’s soccer events.  He collected over $18,000 from the six victims.  Investigators also received information from four other victims, but those victims did not come forward until after the four-year statutory deadline for the filing of a theft charge.   Mr. Fernandez defrauded his victims by falsely claiming he would assist them in securing legal immigration for themselves and family members.  Mr. Fernandez told victims that he had contacts within various public agencies, including the Immigration & Naturalization Service, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Contractors State License Board. He also said he worked in a law office in Sunnyvale, CA.  Over time, Mr. Fernandez collected multiple payments in cash from victims, without providing written contracts or receipts.  Ultimately, the victims never received any services from him.  When victims questioned Fernandez about the status of their paperwork, he reassured them that their matters were either in process, or delayed by government agencies.  Neither of these representations was true.   Mr. Fernandez’s scheme began to unravel when some of the victims organized themselves and complained to the Consumer Protection Unit of the District Attorney’s Office.  Investigators determined that Mr. Fernandez was not an attorney and was not bonded as an Immigration Consultant.  Any non-attorney offering to assist a consumer with an immigration matter must first post a $50,000 bond with the State.  Proof of the bond must be included in a written contract given to the consumer by the immigration consultant.   According to victims, Mr. Fernandez also stole their money by falsely promising to obtain cars and secure apartment rentals for them.  Investigators believe that there are additional victims in the community.  If you believe that you are a victim of Carlos Fernandez, please contact Investigator Jorge Perez at 792-2745.   Mr. Fernandez faces a maximum of six years in state prison.   This prosecution is one of a series of cases prepared and filed by the Consumer Protection Unit of the District Attorneys Office.  The investigations are intended to address illegal activities by non-attorneys who offer legal assistance.  In addition to posting a $50,000 bond, Immigration Consultants must provide a written contract with advice of legal rights, and make disclosures through signs posted in their place of business.  Contracts and signs must be in the language of the consumer.  Non-attorneys, including Immigration Consultants, may not engage in the practice of law or offer legal advice.  

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