- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for Immigration Attorney Barred From Running Asylum Scam, Ordered to Pay More Than $240,000 Following AG Lawsuit
BOSTON — Attorney General Maura Healey announced today that an attorney, sued for running an asylum scam in the Brazilian immigrant community, has been found to have engaged in unfair or deceptive practices, ordered by a judge to pay more than $240,000 in penalties and restitution, and barred from any future illegal immigration services.
The order, issued after a 12-day bench trial in Middlesex Superior Court, follows a civil lawsuit filed by the AG’s Office in 2018 alleging that George C. Maroun, Jr. targeted the Brazilian immigrant community and routinely employed deceptive and misleading practices in violation of the state’s Consumer Protection Act.
“This attorney's business model targeted and exploited immigrants looking for legal help and made a profit at their expense, while also putting them at risk of deportation,” said AG Healey. “This was a hard-fought case by my office, and we are pleased to secure restitution and achieve accountability for those harmed by these illegal practices.”
Maroun practices immigration law and has maintained law offices in various locations, including in Somerville, Woburn, Chelmsford, and Stoneham. According to the AG’s complaint, since January 2013, Maroun submitted immigration-related petitions and applications on behalf of more than 1,000 residents in Eastern Massachusetts, many of whom are Brazilian and speak limited English.
Based on the evidence presented at trial, the judge found Maroun repeatedly violated the Consumer Protection Act by filing immigration applications on behalf of new clients without their knowledge or consent; failing to explain the legal processes he would use in their cases or the possible risks or benefits of those processes; filing asylum applications and affidavits containing false information; filing untimely asylum applications which were nearly certain to result in denial and lead to removal proceedings; making false guarantees and misrepresentations about the likelihood that Maroun would secure clients legal immigration status; and using threats of deportation to collect attorney’s fees.
Under the terms of the court order, Maroun is required to pay a total of $241,800, including $160,000 in civil penalties and $81,800 restitution for affected clients. Maroun is also permanently prohibited from representing new clients, filing immigration applications, or soliciting legal fees without disclosing and fully explaining the legal processes, available options for clients, and any risks and benefits to his services.
Maroun is also required to obtain the client’s consent before undertaking any representation or filing any applications on behalf of the client and is barred from making threats of deportation or other negative immigration consequences in order to collect current or additional legal fees from clients.
In his decision, the judge noted that the Supreme Judicial Court and the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers are in a position to decide whether to place restrictions on Maroun’s ability to practice law in the Commonwealth.
As part of her office’s ongoing efforts to advocate for the state’s immigrant communities, AG Healey has been informing and protecting residents from fraudulent immigration law practices. The office’s multilingual education campaign, first launched in 2018, provides immigrant communities with information about these predatory practices, and the tools and tips necessary to help protect themselves. The AG’s Office has since relaunched its education materials and outreach after hearing from community partners about unscrupulous lawyers taking advantage of their clients and a widespread scam known as “notario fraud,” or the unauthorized practice of immigration law.
The AG’s Office has previously taken action against individuals for exploiting residents seeking immigration services. In 2016, Gerson Barahona, a Waltham man was ordered to pay more than $155,760 in restitution to victims, civil penalties, and attorney’s fees, after posing as an immigration lawyer and unlawfully charging hundreds or thousands of dollars for legal advice and services. The AG’s Office sought and obtained a preliminary injunction in December 2014 that required Barahona to cease providing any services related to immigration matters.
To report an immigration scam, call the AG’s Civil Rights Division at (617) 963-2917. To learn more, please visit www.mass.gov/immigrationscams.
This case was handled by Senior Counsel Samantha Shusterman of AG Healey’s Consumer Protection Division, Assistant Attorney General David Ureña of AG Healey’s Civil Rights Division, former Paralegals Marina Bueno and Sneha Pandya and Paralegal Andrew Turnbull of the Consumer Protection Division, and Senior Investigator Ciara Tran of the Civil Investigations Division, with the assistance of State Trial Counsel James Sweeney and former Consumer Protection Division Chief Max Weinstein.
To view this press release in Portuguese, click here.
To view this press release in Spanish, click here.