BOSTON (WWLP) – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed a lawsuit against Libre by Nexus for taking advantage of vulnerable immigrants and promising them their release from detention centers.
The lawsuit alleges that the company preys on immigrants held in federal detention centers by offering to pay for their immigration bonds to secure their release while misrepresenting the true nature and costs of its services.
Libre has hundreds of current and former clients in Massachusetts.
According to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Libre markets its services to detainees and their friends and family members who are desperate to secure their loved one’s release.
Libre advertises what it calls immigration bond “securitization” services, charging large upfront fees and hefty monthly payments to arrange to have detainees released on bond, and requiring them to wear GPS-tracking devices until the immigration proceeding is resolved.
Libre allegedly leads consumers to believe that they are taking on a loan and that its services are approved by federal immigration authorities.
Consumers later discover that the monthly fees paid to Libre were not credited toward their bond, are nonrefundable, and frequently end up being thousands of dollars more than the face value of the bond.
“Libre has built a business preying on immigrants and their families, the company seizes moments of desperation, fear, and confusion in order to profit from detainees with misleading contracts, exorbitant fees, forced GPS tracking, and threats of legal action and deportation,” said Attorney General Maura Healey.
The filed complaint alleges:
- Libre requires consumers to sign confusing agreements that are frequently written only in English, even though a vast majority of Libre’s clients do not speak or read English and do not understand it.
- 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.
- To get clients to comply with the company’s agreement and pay its fees, Libre creates the false impression that it has associations with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or other government actors.
- Libre threatens clients that failing to pay fees will lead to arrest, a return to detention, or deportation. Libre also attempts to collect fees by making false threats to take legal action.
- The bulky GPS-tracking devices that Libre has required clients to wear frequently malfunction, interfere with everyday activities and have caused physical injuries.
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.
“Many of these immigrants came to the United States to pursue the American dream. Instead, they got trapped in a financial nightmare,” said Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director David Uejio.
Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Burke, Investigator Ciara Tran, and attorneys of New York and Virginia, as well as the CFPB, are all part of the case.
If you or someone you know in Massachusetts has been a victim of Libre’s unfair and deceptive practices, call AG Healey’s Civil Rights Hotline at (617) 963-2917.