Crime

NYC announces plan to crack down on scams targeting asylum seekers

Authorities say scammers, many of them perpetrating the fraud in Spanish, are using communications platforms to prey on those in need.

New York Mayor Eric Adams visits with asylum seekers.
Benny Polatseck/Mayoral Photography Office via AP, File
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Authorities in New York say they are putting an intense focus on scams that target migrants, including those attempting to seek asylum in the U.S., and who are in desperate need of housing and work. 

Recently, District Attorney Alvin Bragg said a 33-year-old man who was posing as an immigration attorney was indicted for taking thousands of dollars from migrants he'd scammed.

In a January announcement by the Manhattan DA, Pablo Israel Ortega Cuenca was accused of preying on people in New York who sought to become permanent residents. 

New York authorities are urging people to use a new tool provided by the state to seek legitimate legal services. They are asking people who believe they have been a victim of immigration fraud to contact New York's Immigration Affairs Unit at 212-335-3600, or by using WhatsApp at 347-371-0877.

Chicago migrants get winter respite at a volunteer-run donation center
Chicago migrants get winter respite at a volunteer-run donation center

Chicago migrants get winter respite at a volunteer-run donation center

For migrants facing Chicago's bone-chilling winter for the first time, the expansive center in Oak Park, Illinois, offers vital support.

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Authorities say scams that target members of migrant communities are often perpetrated by people who purport to be immigration service providers but are not licensed. Individuals who say they are ICE agents and claim to offer special services to stay out of trouble should also be reported. 

Businesses that offer to provide work visas illegitimately are also a red flag that migrants should be aware of. Authorities say people who offer false investment opportunities, or construction companies that hire immigrants to work on government-funded projects but do not pay the legally mandated salary are also to be avoided and reported. 

There have also been cases of individuals who offer housing and other services, but then take the money and disappear. 

Authorities in New York have provided resources online in English and Spanish — and have provided QR codes that can be scanned with a mobile phone — as a way to provide more information and educate migrants about the dangers of scams.