A Whatcom County superior court commissioner has ordered a Blaine man to stop conducting business as a self-described immigration expert and pay fines in connection with the Washington state attorney general’s investigation of his business practices.
On June 13, state assistant attorney general Pedro Bernal IV filed a complaint in Whatcom County superior court alleging Jason Ankeny misrepresented himself as an expert on immigration issues in violation of the state Consumer Protection Act. The civil action resulted in a consent decree in which Ankeny agreed to pay $3,000 to the attorney general’s office for legal fees and stop advertising himself as an immigration consultant. Ankeny had been advertising and providing his immigration consulting services since 2007 and did not register as an immigration assistant with the state until 2008.
In the complaint, Bernal alleged Ankeny provided advice on selecting and filling out immigration benefit applications and forms, drafting petitions for immigration benefits and completing immigration paperwork to several people and companies without being a state-registered immigration assistant or lawyer. Ankeny charged money for these services without informing his clients that he had no particular expertise in immigration law, Bernal wrote.
Through his agreement with the attorney general’s office, Ankeny neither admitted nor denied Bernal’s allegations. The agreement gave Ankeny until the end of July to dissolve his company, GetUSImmigrationHelp.com LLC, which was based at 289 H Street in Blaine. Ankeny was ordered to remove all “misrepresentations, half-truths or false and misleading statements” from his company’s website. The website is no longer active.
“[Ankeny] shall not claim [he] is an immigration consultant, immigration assistant or any other title that could cause a person to believe that [Ankeny] possesses special professional skills,” superior court commissioner Leon Henley Jr. wrote in the consent decree.
Ankeny could face up $35,000 in fines if he violates any of the terms of the agreement. If asked by clients about immigration issues in any future business ventures in the state, Ankeny is required to inform customers he is not an immigration attorney and cannot provide advice on immigration law.