Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has settled a consumer-protection lawsuit against a Pulaski County woman who was accused of deceptively advertising “notario” services and selling fake identification (ID) cards, which she improperly described as legal forms of identification.
Under the terms of the settlement, Micaela Hernandez of North Little Rock and her business, M. Hernandez Multiservices, may not advertise or sell IDs to Arkansas consumers, is permanently restrained from advertising as a notario, or any similar term, without displaying the proper notice under the Arkansas Notarios Act, and must pay $3,000 to the Attorney General’s office. If Hernandez, at any point, violates the injunctive terms of the settlement within five years, she must pay $25,000 to the Attorney General’s office.
“Micaela Hernandez violated the trust of consumers, many of them immigrants, by letting them believe she was a licensed attorney who could provide government backed ID cards,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This deceptive scheme left many with little money and useless ID cards, putting them in difficult situations. Today, Hernandez is being held accountable for her fraudulent actions.”
The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court in November 2014 and claimed that Hernandez and her business violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Arkansas Notario Act for unlawful business practices primarily targeting Spanish-speaking consumers. Notario fraud occurs when someone takes advantage of the English translation of notary public. In Latin America, notario refers to members of the legal community who have specialized training similar to attorneys in various areas of the law.
M. Hernandez Multiservices sold $70 ID cards advertised as being valid for four years and legally acceptable as a secondary form of identification. Additionally, Hernandez promoted services as a notario.
Arkansas law requires anyone using the terms notario, notario publico or any similar term in advertisements to also provide notice that the advertiser is not a licensed attorney and that the advertiser cannot offer legal advice or other legal assistance regarding immigration.