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"Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

Forum section: Immigration news & articles. - General news and articles that refer to either type of immigration.  -  Use English only please.

Immigration news & articles. General news and articles that refer to either type of immigration.

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Old 11-30-2006, 12:19 PM     #1
floridapete
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Default "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

I am very saddened to have to report that Douglas K. Hall, the owner and principal of "Central Florida Visa Services", which traded from Contempo Plaza on US27, was arrested last Wednesday, the 22nd November, by Polk Co. Sheriffs Dept. on charges of:

1) Grand Theft.
2) Forgery.
3) Uttering a Forged Instrument.
4) Unlawful use of Notary Commission.

He was released same day on a total bail amount of $30,000, to appear at a Polk Court at a later date.

Polk Co. Court Records show a number of cases in his name including one from a British couple who were working with Hall to purchase a business in Naples. The couple are still in the UK and I managed to track them down them yesterday at their E. Sussex home.

In a long, long telecon. they told me of their despair having paid over to Hall a large sum of money for the purchase of the business, while Hall then worked on their L1a visa application to the USCIS. Having had it approved the case was then sent to the US Embassy in London where they were eventually called for an interview. They were told that they would be advised seven days later. Very recently they received a denial notice for their L1 visa app. from the London Embassy. They were dumbfounded !

Meanwhile, Hall seemed 'unable to find' the large sum of dollars which they had paid over to him to hold in Escrow pending closing on the business.

So now they have no business, no visas, and have lost the majority of the money that they raised through a second mortgage on their UK home to buy the US business with !!!!! What a bloody mess !!!!!

I understand that there may be as many as 22 victims like this !

I am personally saddened by this case because I have known Doug for some years since I first met him as the Tourist Tax Auditor for Polk Co. Tax Collectors, late in the 1990's. He was instrumental in working with Webber College, Bartow, to carry out the first CFPMA survey of the economic impact of short term rental homes in the Four Corners area which was a VERY valuable instrument in gaining the respect and consideration of those Counties for the vacation home industry.

Subsequently he moved out of the County offices and into private practice as a tax accountant and 'immigration services advisor' with another partner in Winter Haven. Later he went by himself and at that time approached us to work with our Florida Brits members on their tax matters and property tax appeals as "Central Florida Tax Services". He became an associate member of Florida Brits Club and did some business with our members.

However, we never had any connection with his more recent venture - his 'Visa Services' business - as I didn't know what qualifications or experience he had in that sector and would never advise any of our members to go with any immigration consultant or attorney that we do not know - and I know only two that I could recommend !

My heart goes out to all the victims - and to Dougs family too.
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Old 11-30-2006, 01:01 PM     #2
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

Pete
I'm sorry to hear this.It's bad enough when we hear about these things happening, worse when its someone you know

You mention two immigration consultants that you could recommend . Can you PM me the details
Thanks
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Old 11-30-2006, 02:15 PM     #3
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

I too know Doug Hall, when he first went into partnership with Brian Govoni of Winter Haven back in 1999/2000. Brian started off our E2 application and Doug came into it a short while later. He was our main contact throughout the visa process. We gained a 2 year visa through them. I cannot say the renewal was satisfactory however, and it has to said that our $3500 E2 renewal was handled solely by Brian Govoni. Suffice it to say our renewal was never completed by him, it timed out and the money we paid never translated into what we paid for. No allegations here of deception on the the part of BG, just that we paid for something and didn't get it - simple as that. make of that what you want. I would not appreciate any censorship here, as no-one is making allegations.
Doug suffered a horrific bike accident in 2002 and actually was given last rites. Luckily he pulled through, but he had big problems with memory loss and mental function which took a long time to come back. At this time Govoni parted company with Hall and the rest is history. Like you Peter, Doug was a pleasant person. That does not stop him allegedly commtting crime, in fact it can make it easier. If this action subsequently results in a conviction, then this helps clean up the immigration process for everyone. At that I would commend it
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Old 11-30-2006, 02:21 PM     #4
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

Annie
IMHO
you will be better off using an immigration specialist attorney. They are the ONLY people that can give legal advice. From the experience we have had it has always proved better to use an attorney (I am NOT one by the way). You can employ a good and reputable attorney at a cost that is no more than a so called consultant, and they are state regulated which is more than the unlicensed consultants.
If Sue OKs it, I can pm you a couple of names who our many successful clients have had no issues with AT ALL.

B rgds

Neil
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Old 11-30-2006, 02:37 PM     #5
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pegasus
Annie
IMHO
you will be better off using an immigration specialist attorney. They are the ONLY people that can give legal advice. From the experience we have had it has always proved better to use an attorney (I am NOT one by the way). You can employ a good and reputable attorney at a cost that is no more than a so called consultant, and they are state regulated which is more than the unlicensed consultants.
If Sue OKs it, I can pm you a couple of names who our many successful clients have had no issues with AT ALL.

B rgds

Neil
Neil
Thanks, sounds good to me. I would appreciate names/numbers
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Old 11-30-2006, 03:10 PM     #6
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

OMG

This is terrible and gobsmacked. Is there anything that can be done to help these poor people?
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Old 11-30-2006, 03:26 PM     #7
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark
OMG

This is terrible and gobsmacked. Is there anything that can be done to help these poor people?
I don't really know - because their problem as two faces = the problem of disappeared monies to pay for the business, and the problem of vias denial in order to get to the business and work it.

I have just been speaking with the young guy involved (he has a young family and his wife is about to give birth again any second now). I have put him in touch with ExPats Voice and Susie should watch out for a PM coming to her sometime soon.

I have suggested that she may have a useful contact to get the case re-opened by US Embassy London. His visa case has now been taken over by an attorney over there so he has no need of alternative attorney at this stage.

However, getting the money back seems to be like blood and stones.
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Old 11-30-2006, 05:33 PM     #8
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

Taking the young couple you mentioned, its what are there chances of a visa now? Whilst a good VA may be able to present and argue a good case for approval, without the cash, it's a hollow application. Only with the money restored to their rightful owners can it make sense.
My heart goes out to these victims, but I can't see much positives for them at the end of the day. Lets face it, the Embassy is not known for its compassion, let alone understanding. I am sure that the business structure of CFVS will have been set up to limit liability. Dougs wife did work in the DA's office in Bartow, so god knows what this does for her career or credibility. Nor do I know what their personal liabilities for restitution to victims are either. It's once again, a real crock. One can say Caveat Emptor, but there is a human tragedy behind it all. If there are UK citizens in Florida who are affected, surely the UK Consul General in Orlando should be aware of this situation and the repercussions.
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Old 11-30-2006, 10:11 PM     #9
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

Cheers for the tip.

Its a real shame for the people, but hopefully it won't all be in vain.
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Old 12-01-2006, 05:30 AM     #10
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

Hello Peter

This begger's belief, and can honestly say that I am not often stummped in what to say, but you have got me here.

I am so sorry for all the victims, decent honest folk just trying to live the dream. If there is anything I can do please let me know.

Can you help in anyway by contacting the press assn in the UK? Seems we must include raising awareness to issues like this too. Until Mr Hall has been proven guilty, I will, have to assume innocent until proven, but its not looking good for Mr Hall, is it?


For those wanting an immigration attorney, please make sure they are a member of www.aila.org they do have a referral section on their site,

Always check out lawyers qualifications are accurate and ask for details of and court cases they have been sucessful with.

Here are a couple of useful sites


www.aila.org American Immigration Lawyers Assn

www.ailf.org American Immigration Laywers Foundation

www.whoswholegal.com To check out attorneys Bio

www.laywers.com To find lawyer

www.cliniclegal.org Not for profit Catholic immigration Network, you do not have to be a catholic for assistance, They have 600 attorneys throught the USA. Mr Charles Wheeler has written a book on CSPA (Ageing out) and we will be contacting him shortly to raise awareness to our site and aims
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Please note I am not a lawyer but want to be so this is just IMHO

Last edited by Susie; 12-02-2006 at 05:41 PM..
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Old 12-01-2006, 08:24 AM     #11
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

No, Susie, I will NOT be contacting the Press over here just yet.

Mr. Hall deserves his day in court and, until then, he must be given the presumption of innocence.

To set the 'tabloid's on this story would just be another nail in the coffin of Florida in the eyes of the UK. travelling public - though it would not affect those who are just tourists at all. We don't need any more of that publicity right now. The US Embassy aspect thing is different. I have already tipped Emigrate America and a broadsheet off about that.

My greatest concern, looking at the numbers involved from public records, is that there must be, right now, a pile of pending visa files on Halls office desk which are in some stage of being processed or applied for. All of those people will already have handed over monies (half now- half later). Do these people have any idea of what is happening over there ? I doubt it.

That is the real predicament !
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Old 12-01-2006, 10:47 PM     #12
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

This is terrible, I feel so sorry for the victims.

I thought that escrow monies were supposed to be kept in a separate clients account in clients name, so funds were safe?
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Old 12-01-2006, 10:49 PM     #13
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

Ok, I have thought long and hard about replying to this thread.
We are one of 22 or so victims of a crime
I have always believed in the presumption of innocence until proved otherwise. That is until you are involved.
I am carefull of what I should put mainly because of the pending court case.
Fact 1.
I gave someone money to place in escrow and received documents to show that is where it was. The only two people who should be able to touch it are buyer and seller.
Fact 2, that money is no longer there. Work it out.
Oh fact three the person who was given the money phoned me and admitted it had been stolen.
Hopefully I have been able to cover our loss after taking some good legal advice from an attorney. I will not go into details but we have certain assets that 'should' cover our loss. I would rather have the money.
We now own our business and the details of how that has been acheived are not relevant to this.
BTW, do I feel sorry for the family, not a chance. Trust me there is more to this than has been reported here.
Do I feel sorry for the other people involved, yes of course. We are all victims of a liar and a thief.
Should it go to the press. Most definately, we are not stupid people, the others who are involved are not stupid either. We were all taken in by someone who came highly recommended and had documents to 'prove' the money was where it should be. So people need to be aware to be carefull of who they deal with. I also think the escrow rule should change. This was an opportunity waiting to happen.
Perhaps the money should be lodged with the embassy in some sort of account, I don't know.
I will take great pleasure in being in court when called and pointing out the man I gave a substantial amount of money to.
I actually think myself lucky that I have a business and can carry on. That will not apply to most if not all of the other victims. That said the first few days after the dreaded your money has been stolen phone call was the worst days I have ever experienced. Nothing can describe what your feelings are. Theres only one person I want to have worst days than that.
On another note, the amount of money involved is huge when pooled together, according to the investigating officer it is somewhere near $2.8m
Just where exactly did that go?
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Old 12-01-2006, 11:08 PM     #14
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

Everhopefull,
I am so sorry to hear you have been involved in this awful mess, Am glad that all seems to be protected for you though and wish you the best when you get "your day in court"
let us know how it goes.

Em x
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Old 12-01-2006, 11:12 PM     #15
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

Everhopeful
Well done for being brave and coming forward. I agree entirely with everything you say.
Investors should only put there escrow money into an attorney account . Firstly they are licensed, secondly insured, and thirdly despite rumour most are honest.
I have never and will never handle any clients money, and anyone who does is opening himself up for an allegation of fraud.
There should never be any circumstances where money is handed over to anyone or any organisation who is unlicensed.
I am glad you got your visa, and wish you luck.
With the publicty of this arrest on a number of open forums, it is going to be difficult to avoid U.K media coverage.I am sure they read the Florida papers and forums.
However he is innocent until proved guilty, and may welcome the opportunity to give his explanation !!!!
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Old 12-01-2006, 11:50 PM     #16
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

We used Doug and to be honest with you, even though he drove us to distraction, whenever I phoned him and told him what I thought of him and his practices he was always a gentleman - I never saw him as a threat to us or our money. We always blamed it on his accident and he forgot stuff sometimes - typical gullible Brits really. I would never have said that he was a criminal, in fact, he helped us out big time at one stage and for that we are grateful to him - God only knows what has happened to him in the meantime! I just hope he gets his day in Court and can explain the circumstances surrounding what has happened. I certainly wouldn't want a kangaroo court for him, even though some of what he advised has caused the situation we are now in! You live and learn!
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Old 12-02-2006, 06:07 AM     #17
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

Hi Everhopefull

Boy oh boy,

I am truely so sorry for your monetary loss and the amount of stress this must have been causing your family and yourself.

If there is anything I can do or you would like to have a private chat please send me a pm.

There is nothing wrong in coming forward to say you are a victim and extremley brave of you to do so. I agree that the person is innocent until proven guilty and we should be wary of what we say in wrtiing, but add, if what you write is the truth, whole truth and verified you have nothing to fear. I sincerely hope that many other victims come forward to assist in gaining justice if nothing else

I am so glad you now have a business and hope this goes well for you. I do hope that by joining expats you will be able to form many true and lasting friendships, I have and so grateful for all members suport of this site

Hope you can make our BINGO fund raising night on 16th Dec and get to know us
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Old 12-02-2006, 10:53 AM     #18
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

Please be VERY careful what anyone says on here. This thread may be being monitored and any information MAY be used in Court.

Before you post anything on here please read - and re-read - it again ! Make any changes BEFORE you click on that 'send' button. For once it is published you don't know how many people may be printing it off.

I am now in touch with several of the victims and also the Polk Co. Sheriff Dept. I am truly amazed at the scale and complexity of this thing.
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Old 12-02-2006, 05:46 PM     #19
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

Thank you Peter

I agree, just be very careful what you say in writing on an open forum and the last thing I need right now is a law suit.


Hearsay is just that, you hear something then say something. So unless you are the victim and can prove so, please think about your posting before you post
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Please note I am not a lawyer but want to be so this is just IMHO
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Old 12-03-2006, 04:06 AM     #20
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Default Re: "Central Florida Visa Services" owner arrested.

eversohopeful

so sorry mate, anything we can do?
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