Newcomer warning: watch out for immigration scams


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued an urgent fraud alert to New York’s immigrant and refugee communities, Wednesday, to watch out for criminals posing as agents for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), following a spike in complaints of fraud.

Scenes of armed customs enforcement agents detaining residents and immigrants–in some cases deporting them—seems to be stoking fear among New York’s immigrants and refugees, and Schneiderman said that fear is costing them thousands of dollars, even here in Western New York.

The Attorney General said the ripoffs come in different forms, such as a phone call from someone posing as an agent from ICE, threatening to deport that newcomer, unless they pay up, or give up sensitive financial information, such as credit card or bank account numbers.

Others might pose an immigration lawyers or counselors who can cut through the government red tape for a price, but only take the newcomers’ money.

Schneiderman cited a complaint filed in his Buffalo office, about a call that seemed to be the real deal, because it seemed to be coming from a legitimate government phone, “The fraudster told the man that he had improperly filled out some immigration forms and needed to pay a $1,500 fine immediately.”

The Attorney General’s investigation found the scammers using “Caller ID Spoofing” to make the calls seem real, “One of the most nefarious parts of this particular scam was that the 800 number that showed up on the immigrant’s Caller ID is the actual 800 number of an official U.S. government immigration office.”

Schneiderman cautions all New Yorkers, government agents will never demand money over the phone, in an email or text. To report this kind of fraud, you can contact the Attorney General’s Immigration Services Fraud Hotline at 1-866–390-2992.

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