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The New York Attorney General’s office issued an urgent fraud alert on immigration scams Wednesday.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman sent out the alert to warn immigrant communities about reports of people posing as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The scammers are targeting undocumented immigrants, and are threatening them with deportation if they do not pay them money. The Attorney General’s office provided one example in which four men dressed as ICE agents approached an immigrant living in Queens. The men then told the individual they would detain him if he didn’t pay up. Newsday reports the victim paid the scammers $250.
“It is unconscionable for scam artists to prey on heightened fear in our immigrant communities by pretending to be ICE officers and demanding that families pay up in order to avoid deportation,” Schneiderman wrote in the alert. “I urge communities to protect themselves by learning about these potential scams—and contacting my office if they suspect fraud. We will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal and bring to justice those who commit fraud against our immigrant communities.”
The recent surge of ICE raids has heightened fears and paranoia among immigrants across the country. According to this week’s reports, immigration officers arrested about 600 people in at least 11 states. It’s estimated 40 of those people were detained in NYC.
On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly released a statement defending the raids.
[Donald] Trump has been clear in affirming the critical mission of DHS in protecting the nation and directed our department to focus on removing illegal aliens who have violated our immigration laws, with a specific focus on those who pose a threat to public safety, have been charged with criminal offenses, have committed immigration violations or have been deported and re-entered the country illegally.
To report potential fraud or other issues involving immigration services, Schneiderman urges you to contact the Attorney General's Immigration Services Fraud Unit by phone, (866) 390-2992, or email, Civil.Rights@ag.ny.gov. The office will not ask for your immigration status or share information with federal authorities.