Police say Alex Avila Hernandez man posed as a lawyer offering immigration help. Instead, police say he disappeared.
Jorge Radilla is in shock after putting his trust and money into a person who promised him a path to citizenship.
"We got hurt a lot," Radilla said. "We wanted the ultimate dream and it hurts. And we don't want others to fall into same trap."
Radilla says after hearing the suspect's advertisement on a Christian radio station, he reached out to get help. He says Alex Avila Hernandez, told him he was a lawyer and then charged him three- thousand to help gain citizenship.
Police say the suspect occupied an office space in central Merced starting in April. The building's landlord says the suspect later stopped paying rent and then never returned.
A nearby employee told Action News he saw at least a dozen people walk into the office, often with their families and saw young children serving as interpreters.
The incident is especially troubling for Ramiro Coronado, who has been an immigration advocate for more than three decades. He offers this key piece of advice to those looking for assistance.
Coronado said, "Ask him to show his license. Or prove that he has the qualifications."
To this day, Radilla still has the business card of the man who took more than just his money. He took his trust. And now he hopes by sharing his story, he can help others and eventually get his money back.
Lt. Tom Trindad said, "These folks are working very hard for money and for the American dream, he stole it."