Ill. AG says website represented itself as government
CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit on Thursday against a Chicago man who allegedly cheated consumers out of at least $10,000 for help with their immigration applications that he never provided.
Madigan alleges that Vytautas Lekarauskas fraudulently charged immigrant consumers upfront fees ranging from $40 to more than $1,000 each to assist with services and document preparation.
"Too often I see scam artists target immigrants with the promise of helping them navigate a very complicated legal process," Madigan said. "The scammers take large sums of money upfront but then disappear without ever providing help on immigration applications."
The lawsuit alleges Lekarauskas deceptively represented and marketed his website, USAimmigrationsupport.com, as an official government site. The website allegedly features a logo that closely mimics a federal seal next to the title "United States Immigration Organization" and allegedly attempts to make consumers believe it is an official government site where they can obtain passports, as well as visa and citizenship applications.
The site allegedly encourages consumers to apply for these federal documents, which are available for free through legitimate government sources, and charges substantial fees simply to apply, including $149 for passport applications, $450 for green card applications and $680 for citizenship applications.
Consumers allegedly never received the documents for which they applied, according to the complaint.
Lekarauksas allegedly misled consumers in Illinois and across the country into believing they were hiring an attorney to assist with document preparation, application filing and other services through that site and his United States Immigration Organization Inc.
Madigan also alleged that Lekarauskas is not a licensed attorney.
Madigan received 11 complaints against Lekarauskas from consumers who reported losing at least $10,000. The Better Business Bureau also received 52 consumer complaints against the defendant.
Madigan is asking that the court ban Lekarauskas from the business of immigration service in Illinois and cease operating his website or any variation of it under a different URL or domain name. The lawsuit also asks the court to void pending consumer contracts and order the defendant to pay consumer restitution. Madigan also asked the court to impose civil penalties on Lekarauskas of $50,000 for violating the Consumer Fraud Act and an additional $50,000 for each violation committed with the intent to defraud.