Libre means “free” in Spanish.
But, according to New York State Attorney General Letitia James, the financial services company named Libre by Nexus has instead locked vulnerable immigrants into deceptive and abusive contracts.
The company purports to help immigrants get out of federal detention centers with immigration bonds.
The lawsuit accuses Libre by Nexus and its parent company, Nexus Services, of preying on immigrants held in detention centers by offering to pay for their immigration bonds to secure their release, while concealing or misrepresenting the true nature and costs of its services.
James joined a coalition that includes the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Attorneys General of Massachusetts and Virginia to file the lawsuit, which was filed on February 22 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.
According to the complaint, Libre charges substantial upfront fees and hefty monthly payments, which typically amount to thousands of dollars more than the face value of the immigration bond.
In addition, the company forces customers to wear painful GPS devices and markets its services to the friends and family members of detainees, who are desperate to secure their loved one’s release and also pay some of the exorbitant fees, the complaint said.
“Immigrant communities serve as the lifeblood of this nation, yet Libre by Nexus exploited their fears and targeted our state’s most vulnerable,” said James. “Libre tricked poor individuals into paying astronomical rates and illegally profited millions, while simultaneously shackling immigrants with homing devices. This lawsuit should send a clear message to all who seek to exploit and take advantage of our most helpless communities that we will use every tool in our arsenal to end your unlawful activity and the suffering you inflict.”
Libre by Nexus falsely threatened immigrants with potential re-arrest, detention or deportation if they did not make their repayments, the complaint said.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants violated several laws, including the Dodd‐Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s prohibition on deceptive and abusive acts and practices, as well as the states’ consumer protection laws.
- Libre shackles its clients with GPS devices that cannot be removed.
- Libre requires consumers to sign confusing and misleading contracts that they present to consumers only in English, even though a vast majority of Libre’s clients do not speak or read English and do not understand the contract.
- Libre mischaracterizes its financial services as a “program” by boasting that it offers “wraparound services,” including free legal services. In reality, Libre provides nothing more than a referral to lawyers for its clients, who may receive no legal services at all, the complaint said.
- Libre misleads consumers into believing that their monthly fees are paying down their bond as a debt owed to Libre and will be refunded at the conclusion of their immigration proceedings. But, only later do many consumers discover that Libre will not refund thousands or tens-of-thousands of dollars in fees.
- To collect fees, Libre creates the false impression that it has associations with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or other government actors and that failing to pay fees to Libre can lead to arrest or deportation.
The lawsuit seeks to put an end to the company’s illegal practices, obtain millions of dollars in restitution for the thousands of victims, and impose penalties on the companies.
“This case is a prime example of how people of color are targeted in financial scams and the latent inequity that is too often found in the market for financial products and services,” said CFPB Acting Director David Uejio said in the statement. “The Bureau won’t stand for it.”
Libre significa “emancipado” en español.
Pero, según la fiscal general del estado de Nueva York, Letitia James, la compañía de servicios financieros llamada Libre by Nexus, en cambio, ha trabado a inmigrantes vulnerables en contratos engañosos y abusivos.
La compañía pretende ayudar a los inmigrantes a salir de los centros de detención federales con bonos de inmigración.
La demanda acusa a Libre by Nexus y a su empresa matriz, Nexus Services, de aprovecharse de los inmigrantes detenidos en centros de detención al ofrecer pagar sus…