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2 Brooklyn businesses shut down

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2 Brooklyn businesses shut down

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NEW YORK – New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has ordered the shut-down of two Brooklyn businesses that bilked Haitian immigrants out of thousands of dollars by providing fake legal services. 
Schneiderman said the businesses began preying on Haitians seeking a special legal status that became available after last year’s devastating earthquake in their homeland. 
“It is unconscionable that these companies defrauded victims of the Haiti earthquake just to make a quick buck,” he said.
Schneiderman accused the companies of charging Haitians for legal advice even though they didn’t have lawyers on staff. 
The Attorney General said the businesses charged more than 30 victims hundreds of dollars each to file Temporary Protected Status (TPS) paperwork, which would have allowed them to work in the US.
He said many of the Haitians were charged by the firms even though some of them may have been able to have their application fees waived by the government.  
Schneiderman said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo began investigating the businesses last year when he was attorney general and that a case against a third business is pending. 
Schneiderman gave the first two companies 45 days to shut down their businesses, and permanently barred them from offering any sort of immigration-related services. 
They face fines of more than US$25,000 and have to notify all past and present clients they are no longer in the immigration business.
Schneiderman said victims who can prove they were bilked by the two companies may qualify for restitution. 
“We will continue working aggressively to root out fraud wherever it exists, and that includes bringing those who prey on the immigrant community to justice,” he said.  (CMC)