May 12, 2010

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers says he's obtained a court order barring a business from engaging in fraud in the sale of services to consumers seeking immigration assistance.

The Colorado Springs business, called the Immigration Center, and its owners and operators, Charles Doucette, Deborah Stilson and Alfred Boyce, are accused of defrauding consumers in search of assistance in obtaining or completing federal immigration forms.

The Office of the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Doucette and the Immigration Center in August 2009 and alleged that the business had engaged in deceptive trade practices, including posing as or claiming an affiliation with the federal government.

According to the complaint, Doucettes business advertised itself as being able to help immigrants obtain and complete various immigration forms in exchange for fees ranging from $300 to $700. The Immigration Centers non-refundable fees were for filing the forms, which were available free of charge from the federal government. The Immigration Center also did not provide consumers with assistance from attorneys or anyone with expertise in immigration law.

Under the courts order against the Immigration Center, the business will be barred from engaging in immigration-assistance services and will be required to pay the state a total of $2.5 million in restitution and civil penalties. The court also approved a settlement between the state and Doucette. Under the settlement Doucette and Stilson will pay $85,000 in fines and restitution and will not be allowed to engage in the business of selling government forms or assistance with those forms.

Doucette and Stilson also will be required to desist any marketing associated with any immigration-assistance business, including taking down any Web sites associated with their businesses.

The Immigration Center also did business under the names U.S. Immigration Center, ImmigrationHelpLine.org, U.S. Government Help Line, Liberty Legal Services, Maydene Media, Immigration Forms & Services, and Immigration Forms & Documents.