The immigration services business will be permanently off limits to an operation that allegedly posed as the federal government and tricked people into paying up to $2,500 for immigration forms, under settlements with the Federal Trade Commission.
The two settlements resolve charges the FTC filed in January 2011 against Immigration Center and its principals alleging that they claimed they were authorized to provide immigration and naturalization services, that they were affiliated with the U.S. government, and that fees paid by consumers would cover all the costs associated with submitting immigration documents to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The court subsequently shut down the operation, froze the defendants' assets, and appointed a receiver to control the business until the case was resolved.
In addition to banning Immigration Center, Charles Doucette, Deborah Stilson, and Alfred Boyce from providing immigration services, the settlement orders prohibit them from making misrepresentations about any goods or services, including federal government affiliation, the terms of any refund or cancellation policy, and their qualification to provide legal advice or services. They also are prohibited from selling or otherwise benefitting from customers' personal information, and from failing to properly dispose of customers' personal information within 30 days. The order against Immigration Center, Doucette, and Stilson also imposes a judgment of more than $3.1 million against Immigration Center, and a judgment exceeding $3.7 million against Doucette and Stilson. The judgments will be suspended upon the surrender of certain assets, including a car and a mobile home. The order against Boyce also imposes a judgment of more than $2.7 million, which will be suspended if the terms of the settlement order are met. The full judgments will become due immediately if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.
Immigration Center, Charles Doucette, Deborah Stilson, and Alfred Boyce participated in the settlement announced today. The remaining defendants are in default.
The Commission vote approving the proposed consent order was 4-0. The consent order was entered by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada on December 27, 2011.
NOTE: The consent orders are for settlement purposes only and do not constitute an admission by the defendants that the law has been violated. Consent orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC's Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
(FTC File No. X110013)
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