Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Thursday, July 25, 2002


Austin-based business is accused of scamming hundreds of immigrants

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today announced a lawsuit against International Professional All Services and the company's owner, María Castano. The Attorney General's office alleges Castano told consumers the international driver's licenses she offered for sale allowed them to legally drive in Texas and promised other clients she could obtain a Texas driver's license for them without requiring the test mandated by the Department of Public Safety.

The business, located in Austin at 4619 B. South Congress Avenue, targeted a predominately Spanish-speaking clientele, most of whom were undocumented immigrants. International Professional All Services charged approximately $250 per international drivers' license. The lawsuit also alleges that Castano misled certain consumers by telling them that for a fee she would "fix" or "clear" a person's driving record.

"This is my office's latest legal action against schemes that target consumers who happen to be immigrants," said Attorney General John Cornyn. "Those who view immigrants in Texas as easy prey should reconsider. My office is joined by law enforcement and immigration advocates in ensuring the safety and well-being for all people who call Texas their home. Misleading consumers by selling them false documents is a public safety issue that should concern all Texans."

The Office of the Attorney General became aware of the problem, in part, through local law enforcement authorities who reported making routine traffic stops where drivers produced the licenses they had purchased from International Professional All Services. The Consulate of Mexico in Austin provided significant assistance by encouraging affected consumers to file complaints if they felt they had been misled.

To obtain a valid international driver's license, a person must apply for such a document only through authorized entities in the country that issued their original license. For example, persons who have a valid license issued by the government of Mexico can only obtain an international license in Mexico through an authorized representative, such as the Mexican Automotive Association (Asociación Mexicana Automotríz, AMA).

In the lawsuit, Attorney General Cornyn asks the court to impose fines of $2,000 against the business and its owner for each violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Furthermore, Cornyn has asked for a temporary injunction to prevent the business from selling additional licenses. The lawsuit also requests that the court order the defendant to reimburse consumers and pay all legal expenses, including the Attorney General's investigative costs and legal fees.

Spanish-speaking consumers who believe they have been victims of this or any other type of scam are encouraged to call toll free 1-800-252-8011.

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