Fake Legal Aid Operation Returns to San Antonio

PDF Version Available for Download

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  
June 27, 2008           

Contact: Cindy Dyar, Attorney  
956.393.6203 
cdyar@trla.org
Cynthia Martinez, Communications Director
512.374.2764
cmartinez@trla.org

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – A fake legal aid operation known as Legal Aid Legal Services is scamming San Antonio residents out of their money with the false promise of providing legal help.

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), the leading provider of legal aid in Texas, is warning the community to beware of the organization that is taking advantage of low income residents.

“This group is taking advantage of people in desperate situations by promising to help them, taking their money, and then not providing services,” said TRLA attorney Cindy Dyar.

TRLA has been investigating fake legal aid scams since 2007 and successfully closed several operations in 2008.  Since that time, former employees of the original scam have formed Legal Aid Legal Services to continue to exploit vulnerable low-income Texans. 

Thus far, TRLA has identified four phone numbers and one website that the phony operation is using to connect with San Antonio residents.  Within the last week, several individuals have contacted TRLA about being victimized by the organization after getting the company’s contact information from 411.

“They are trying to appear as though they are a legitimate legal aid organization,” added Dyar.  “But legal aid will never ask a client to pay for services.”

There are numerous warning signs people should look for to avoid being scammed by a fake legal aid group.  First, legal aid services are free for anyone who qualifies.  A legal aid organization will never ask a client to pay attorney fees.  The only legitimate legal aid organizations in Texas are Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, and Lone Star Legal Aid.  National legal aid organizations do not exist.

Several websites are also available to help individuals needing legal assistance.  Instead of paying for legal forms, individuals can visit texaslawhelp.org for free copies of legal documents.  Individuals can also visit the Texas Bar Association’s website (www.texasbar.com) to ensure that they are working with attorneys licensed to practice in Texas.

Residents who feel they have been the victims of this scam can contact Texas RioGrande Legal Aid at 1-888-988-9996 for further assistance.

Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients in a 68-county service area. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and stability of low-income Texas residents by providing high-quality legal assistance and related educational services.

 
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