U.S.: Fake Agents Extort Immigrants Fearful of Deportation

Published: 16 February 2017


Immigration and Customs Enforcement logo (Photo: United States Department of Homeland Security)

By Karina Shedrofsky

The recent spike in deportation raids sweeping the United States has inspired scam artists to prey on people’s fears and pose as immigration agents demanding money from immigrants to avoid deportation, New York Attorney General warned on Wednesday.

"It is unconscionable for scam artists to prey on heightened fear in our immigrant communities," Attorney General Eric Schniederman said in a statement, reminding people that official Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will never ask for money.

Schniederman wrote that his office has "received a number of reports of unsolicited calls or in-person inquiries from fake immigration officials."

In one case, four men dressed as ICE agents reportedly approached an immigrant in the New York City borough of Queens, threatening to detain him unless he "gave them all of his money." The man handed over US$ 250, local media reported.

The statement warned of a number of similar scams, including unsolicited calls and text messages from someone claiming to be a government official or law enforcement officer requesting sensitive or personal information and payments over the phone.

The heightened fear comes after a series of immigration enforcement operations that resulted in more than 680 arrests of mostly criminals.

Critics of the operations argue that under President Donald Trump, ICE is targeting non-threatening individuals and terrorizing communities with such public arrests.

But in a statement Monday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly emphasized that "ICE conducts these kind of targeted enforcement operations regularly and has for many years."