City Attorney David Chiu

Court finds predatory immigration consulting business violated the law

Judge grants the City’s motion to stop Leo Lacayo from providing fraudulent immigration services that put immigrant communities at risk

SAN FRANCISCO (September 15, 2022) — City Attorney David Chiu announced today that a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the City in its effort to stop a predatory immigration consulting business from providing fraudulent immigration services. The Court found that Leo Lacayo and Lacayo & Associates violated the terms of a 2017 injunction prohibiting them from providing immigration-related services. The order extends the term of injunction for 60 months, provides transparency and notice for recent victims, and imposes civil penalties.

City Attorney David Chiu
City Attorney David Chiu

For years, Leo Lacayo has falsely represented himself as a lawyer and provided advice he was not qualified to give, scamming immigrants into paying for sham legal services and putting many at risk of losing their legal rights.

“Our immigrant communities deserve better than a scam artist like Leo Lacayo,” said City Attorney Chiu. “For years, he has profited off of vulnerable immigrants, taking their money while putting them at risk. We are putting a stop to that today. Anyone seeking immigration assistance needs to know that Lacayo & Associates is not qualified or legally allowed to provide immigration-related services of any kind.”

Lacayo & Associates has been operating in San Francisco since 1986. Leo Lacayo is a notary public, but has never been licensed to practice law nor registered with the state as an immigration consultant. For years, Lacayo has falsely portrayed himself as an attorney and either provided services he was not qualified to provide or simply failed to provide any service at all. Despite being unqualified and unlicensed, Leo Lacayo has tricked hundreds of vulnerable people into paying him to handle incredibly complex and high-stakes immigration matters.

In 2017, the City Attorney’s Office secured an injunction that prohibited Leo Lacayo and Lacayo & Associates from providing any immigration-related services, including advice and referrals. Additionally, Lacayo was ordered to pay restitution and civil penalties.

Leo Lacayo continued to victimize the immigrant community despite the injunction. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported that since the injunction was entered, it received over 400 unique immigration applications and petitions associated with the address of Lacayo & Associates, including several documents submitted in the immediate weeks and months after the 2017 injunction was granted. These uninterrupted activities display a blatant disregard for the rule of law.

Today, the Court granted a motion to enforce the 2017 injunction prohibiting Leo Lacayo and Lacayo & Associates from providing immigration services, regardless of whether or not Lacayo portrays himself as a lawyer. The action extends the injunction for an additional 60 months, requires Lacayo to provide victims with access to their immigration documents, notify recent that their cases were not handled by licensed attorneys, and give the City access to Lacayo’s business transaction records. The Court imposed a $5,000 penalty on Leo Lacayo, and the City will seek attorney’s fees.

The case is People of the State of California v. Leonard Lacayo, et al., San Francisco Superior Court, Case No. CGC-16-553699. The order can be found here.