NY issues fraud alert for immigrants
November 23, 2016
As published by the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle on November 22, 2016.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a fraud alert to immigrants on Tuesday, warning them of potential scams.
Schneiderman said the election of Donald Trump and the president-elect’s proposal to deport people in the country illegally, has increased scams targeting immigrants.
Both the attorney general and legal-aid organizations said they have received an increase in the reported number of scams.
“In the past two weeks, we’ve seen intense fear and anxiety in immigrant communities. New York has zero tolerance for anyone who would prey on that fear to defraud immigrants and their families,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
According to Schneiderman’s office, the most common scams are calls from fake immigration officials.
He noted one scam in Buffalo where an immigrant was called from what appeared to be a federal immigration office phone number and ordered to pay $1,500 to afford deportation.
The Democratic attorney general said federal authorities would never order someone to pay a fine over the phone or seek personal information like that.
“Right now the targets are immigrants; we are uniting to protect them,” he said at a press conference in Manhattan on Tuesday.
Other forms of scams targeting immigrants include notary fraud, charging immigrants excessive application fees without submitting the applications; misrepresenting legal credentials or fraudulently promising to expedite the immigration process.
New York has 4.4 million immigrants; second in the nation to California.
“This is a fear that all of New York’s immigrant communities face,” said Steve Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.
“It is in the midst of this fear, it is in this kind of atmosphere, that the scammers and the fraudsters come to light, and they try to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Schneiderman said people who may have been a target of a scam should contact his office’s Immigration Services Fraud Unit Hotline at 866-390-2992 or email [email protected].
The office will not ask for the caller’s immigration status or share their information with immigration officials.