Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
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Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING SUES LIBRE BY NEXUS FOR PREYING ON VULNERABLE IMMIGRANTS
~ Herring joins New York, Massachusetts, and the CFPB in filing lawsuit accusing Libre, parent company, and founders of deceptive illegal practices; Nexus is headquartered in Virginia ~
RICHMOND – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today filed a lawsuit against Libre by Nexus (Libre) and its parent company, Nexus Services, alleging that the company preys on immigrants held in federal 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. Libre charges large upfront fees and hefty monthly payments, which typically amount to thousands of dollars more than the face value of the bond. Libre also 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. Joining Attorney General Herring in co-filing today's lawsuit are the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts, as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
"Libre by Nexus has allegedly preyed on the vulnerabilities of terrified immigrants being held in federal detention centers, as well as their families and friends, for their own financial gain. Not only that, this company allegedly has forced its clients to wear GPS devices, essentially removing them from one prison but binding them to the business instead,” said Attorney General Herring. "Today's lawsuit is the culmination of years of hard work my team and I have put into stopping Libre by Nexus' egregious exploitation of immigrants in Virginia and around the country. I want to thank my colleagues in both New York and Massachusetts as well as at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for the partnership and collaboration on this important matter.”
Libre by Nexus, which is headquartered in Virginia, has been on Attorney General Herring and his Consumer Protection Section's radar for years. Since December 2017, the Office of Attorney General (OAG) has issued six civil investigative demands (CIDs) in connection with the Nexus investigation. In April 2018, after Nexus refused to produce necessary documents, OAG filed a Petition to Enforce CID against Nexus, which was granted in August of that year, after Nexus unsuccessfully tried to fight it. After completing an investigation, the OAG issued a Notice of Violation letter to Nexus identifying possible violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and the Dodd-Frank Act. In December 2020, Virginia joined an amicus brief in opposition to a proposed class action settlement because it 1) provided minimal relief in exchange for overly broad releases of claims against Libre, 2) the attorneys' fees to be awarded to plaintiff's counsel were disproportionately high, and 3) the settlement did not provide adequate notice to consumers.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, alleges that the defendants have violated and continue to violate 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.
In particular, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues allege in the complaint that:
- Libre required consumers to sign confusing and misleading contracts that they present to consumers primarily 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. But, in reality, Libre provides nothing more than a referral to lawyers for its clients, who may receive no legal services at all.
- Libre misleads consumers into believing that their monthly fees are paying down their bond as a debt owed to Libre and that portions 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 created 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.
- Libre has placed GPS devices on clients that cannot be removed. The bulky device can cause physical harm and irritation and often fails to function.
Today's lawsuit also names Libre's principals — Micheal Donovan, Richard Moore, and Evan Ajin — who devised the company's business model, implement it, direct its operation, and know the details of its workings.
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.
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