Reporting Kurtis Ming
CBS13 viewers say they hired a guy to help them with immigration papers. When they say he took their money and ran, Call Kurtis took on the case.
We know of at least four people who paid the immigration consultant hundreds of dollars. So why isn’t he doing the work?
“He’s basically taken my money and run with it,” said Ian Scholes, a Tracy resident.
British native Ian paid $855 to immigration consultant Albert Villela to process his U.S. citizenship documents.
“He said he would take about five months,” said Ian.
Five months has turned into more than a year of frustration, and if he doesn’t get his green card renewed or become a citizen, Ian could lose his job.
“He ignored my phone calls. Every time I went to see him, his door’s always locked,” said Ian.
Samantha Pedroza of Tracy paid Villela $900 for help with paperwork.
“I feel like he’s distrustful and he’s just using people for their money,” said Samantha.
Both say Villela required cash and appeared legit considering his business card says he’s “bonded.”
But we found Villela isn’t even registered as an immigration consultant with the Secretary of State’s Office and doesn’t carry the $50,000 bond the law requires.
So we went searching for him.
He didn’t answer the door and his office was locked. We left a business card and four voice-mail messages but never heard back.
Better Business Bureau president Gary Almond says Villela won’t get back to them either, so they’ve given his business an F rating.
“We’re warning people to check to be sure these folks are bonded or licensed to do this kind of work,” said Almond.
Ian and his wife took Villela to small claims court and they won after Villela didn’t show up.
“We knew basically we were going to win. It’s just a case now of getting the money back from Mr. Villela,” said Ian.
As for Samantha, she hopes no one else will fall prey.
“Being a small town in Tracy, I hope he’s embarrassed for what he’s done to people … for taking people’s money,” said Samantha.
We alerted the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office and they are investigating four complaints so far.
If you or someone you know is a victim, the DA’s office wants to hear from you.
San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office
Cheryl Mason, Paralegal II
Meantime, Ian is still waiting to be paid for his small claims judgment.