Attorney General Hardy Myers today filed a lawsuit against a Portland consulting business for allegedly providing immigration services to members of the Vietnamese Community without legal authority or expertise in immigration matters. Named in a lawsuit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court are PH Consulting Services and its owner Paulina Ngoc, also known as Hoang Ngoc Chau Tran.
"Aggressive action was necessary in this case in order to send a strong message that Oregon will not tolerate fraudulent activities targeting Vietnamese consumers," Myers said.
The Department started investigating PH Consulting Services last January after receiving a complaint from a Portland woman who contracted with PH Consulting to arrange for her fiance to immigrate to the United States from Vietnam. The victim agreed to a $15,000 service fee, paying $7,870 up front with the remainder due upon arrival of her fiance in the USA. Arrangements were never made and the defendant refused to refund the victim's money.
Aided by translators from the immigration section of Catholic Charities of Oregon, the Department investigators located and reviewed advertisements the defendant published in Vietnamese newspapers for several years. The ads claimed PH Consulting Services could assist with immigration, naturalization, re-entry permits and sponsoring relatives from foreign countries. The defendant's business card also listed "immigration" as an area of available services.
The complaint seeks restitution for the victim and to prohibit permanently the defendant from engaging in any business involving immigration matters in Oregon. The lawsuit also seeks $15,000 in civil penalties and attorneys fees.
Attorney General Myers formed an Immigration Services Fraud Task Force in 1998 with interested community organizations and political leaders. With assistance from task force members, the Department has filed six court actions; adopted an administrative rule that prohibits the misrepresentation of power and authority by notary publics; established a Spanish-language consumer hotline; and produced immigration services fraud brochures printed in six languages, including English, Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese, Mandarin Chinese and Serbo-Croatian.
Attorney General Myers urges consumers who need assistance with immigration services to do the following:
Always ask to review credentials;
Work only with attorneys that specialize in immigration law or accredited representatives of the Board of Immigration Appeals;
Request an official notice of representation or a written retainer agreement;
Discuss any possible risks involved before submitting papers to the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS).
For more information on immigration services fraud, consumers may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392 or write Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection, 1162 Court Street, N.E., Salem, Oregon 97310. Information is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org