Minn. AG: Woman posing as immigration lawyer bilked clients

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is suing a Shakopee woman for allegedly posing as an immigration attorney.

Ornella Hammerschmidt is accused of bilking several consumers out of thousands of dollars by providing unauthorized legal counsel on immigration matters.

State law allows only attorneys or accredited representatives to give legal guidance on immigration matters, Swanson said Tuesday.

"This case is about somebody exploiting both the complexity and the cost of the legal system to their own advantage and to the detriment of the consumers who hired the company," Swanson said. "One of the oldest scams in the book is the exploit people who are unlikely to complain about it."

Hammerschmidt's clients are mostly people who speak English as a second language, according to the suit filed Tuesday in Hennepin County.

Swanson is asking for restitution for the victims and for the state to bar Hammerschmidt from entering into such business again.

Hammerschmidt could not be reached for comment.

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