Citizens ripped off when trying to visit consulate

Dozens of Mexican citizens claim they are being ripped off by a notary business as they prepare to go home for the holidays
November 26, 2013 3:16:08 PM PST
A warning from the Consulate General of Mexico to many travelers trying to make it south of the border for the holiday. The consulate says some people are being taken advantage of while trying to get their papers in order.

The problem has gotten so bad that the consulate has posted a sign telling their customers to not be fooled.

They stand on the sidewalks sometimes discreetly, sometimes not. But they're always on the hunt.

"This guy comes to me and says, 'Walk in, walk in,' pointing next to the consulate," customer Viridiana Carreon

Carreon says she was making her way into the Mexican Consulate in Houston to get her passport, but she was quickly convinced to go into this nearby photocopy place. Once inside, the clerk told her all the documents and pictures she had were incorrect.

"She took my pictures and she was telling me, 'No, they're not going to take them; the background looks gray and it has to be white.' It was white for me," Carreon said.

We heard the same story from Lucas Sanchez.

"The pictures are not right, you have to have more copies of this, you have to take more copies of that. And after they take copies and pictures, they charge you a lot of money," Sanchez said.

But once they made their way into the consulate, both learned the photos and documents they originally had were all they needed.

"We get complaints from folks on a daily basis who claim they're being misled but we want them to know that they can get all the necessary paperwork and photographs here without having to worry about misinformation," Consul Ramon Ruy-Sanchez with the Mexican Consulate in Houston said through a translator.

We tried getting a comment from the owner of the photocopy business, Oralia Gilmore. At first, she refused to talk to us. But then, she approached us outside.

When asked if she was lying and misleading customers, she says no. She says what she does is simply give her opinion. She went on to say she charges three times more than other places because she has to pay rent, utilities and taxes on her place of business.

Officials with the consulate say anyone with questions about paperwork should call them and ask. If something extra needs to be done, it can be completed inside the consulate.

Karla Barguiarena will have more on ABC13 Eyewitness News today at 5pm. Find Karla on Facebook at ABC13KarlaBarguiarena or on Twitter at @KarlaABC13

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