NYC DCA Charges Purveyor of Fraudulent ‘National ID’ for Immigrants

(Screen shot from Carlos Davila’s YouTube video)

City officials and immigration advocates have been warning repeatedly in recent months against scammers who prey on immigrants. Now, two months after a press investigation by WNYC and Telemundo 47 revealed the sale of fraudulent ID cards that purported to protect the holder from deportation, the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs has taken action.

DCA on July 6 announced that it had brought charges against a former nonprofit corporation, A New Beginning for Immigrants Rights, Inc. (NBIR), and its president, Carlos Davila, “for engaging in deceptive and illegal practices to profit from immigrant consumers.” DCA charges that NBIR sold for $50 – $200 “national identification cards” dubbed ID4ICE cards, billed as providing protection against deportation and immunity from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

WNYC and Telemundo 47 uncovered the sale of the fraudulent cards in an investigation published in May.

DCA, which has the authority to bring charges in connection with consumer fraud, is alleging numerous violations of consumer law and seeking more than $1.3 million in fines. The case will be heard at the City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH).

“These deceptive tactics not only place immigrant New Yorkers at extraordinary risk, but also violate the City’s Consumer Protection Law,” DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas was quoted as saying in an official press release from the agency. “DCA is committed to preventing predatory immigration assistance providers from taking advantage of vulnerable New Yorkers, and we will continue to investigate anyone who engages in these practices. Immigrants should utilize the City’s free and secure services to ensure they are keeping themselves and their families safe.”

Among the violations cited by DCA in the press release were:

  • Engaging in Deceptive Trade Practices

NBIR and Mr. Davila advertise immigration assistance services through a variety of media, including YouTube videos, making statements that suggest the “ID4ICE” card is registered with the federal government and that it can protect cardholders from deportation, which it cannot.

  • Falsely Advertising the Authorization to Provide Immigration Assistance Service

Since NBIR is no longer a tax exempt, not-for-profit organization, it no longer qualifies to be recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to provide immigration assistance services. In spite of this, Davila refers to himself as a “Legal Representative” and an “Immigration Expert” in one of NBIR’s YouTube videos. These inflated titles lead consumers to believe Davila possesses special professional skills that he does not.

  • Providing Legal Advice Concerning an Immigration Matter Without a License

NBIR and Davila grossly misrepresent their ability and qualifications to provide legal advice to immigrants and they mislead consumers into paying a $45 monthly fee for supposed legal representation. For example, in one YouTube video, Davila offers legal representation in court for members of NBIR and on several occasions advises consumers what to do if an ICE agent comes to their home.

DCA also stated that while NBIR “has seemingly closed its storefront, and taken down its website and Facebook page, its YouTube channel and phone number are still active.” Davila could not be reached for comment at a phone number listed for NBIR in the Bronx.

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