US POLITICS

Vile Crooks Are Now Posing As ICE Agents

Scam artists are already preying on the heightened fears of deportation among some immigrants to turn a quick buck

US POLITICS
Actual Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents detain a suspect in Los Angeles — REUTERS
Feb 16, 2017 at 3:08 PM ET

Immigration officials are on the prowl—and so are unscrupulous scammers.

Crooks disguised as federal law enforcement officers are targeting foreign-born residents as fears over President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown surges, according to New York’s top cop.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that men posing as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have already ripped off people afraid of being rounded up and deported from the country. His office has also received multiple reports of fake immigration officials attempting to shake down immigrant households through a series of threatening phone calls, he said.

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“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 said in a statement. “We will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal and bring to justice those who commit fraud against our immigrant communities.”

In one alleged incident, a group of four men decked out as ICE agents approached an immigrant in Woodside, Queens, and demanded that he fork over all of his money to avoid being detained and deported to his home country. The crooks walked away with $250, Schneiderman’s office said.

The attorney general also warned of several other scams frequently used by individuals to target vulnerable immigrants, including fraudulent legal services.

Schneiderman’s notice comes just days after ramped-up immigration enforcement around the country sent shockwaves through foreign-born communities. At least 680 people were arrested in nationwide ICE raids last week, including dozens of people who had no prior criminal convictions. Of those, at least 40 were detained in the New York area, according to figures released by ICE.

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Many immigrants, regardless of legal status, continue to remain on high alert following detailed reports of arrests in recent days. A handful of Latino men in Virginia were reportedly stopped and detained by ICE officials while leaving a church shelter on February 8.

The following day, a father of three in Oregon was arrested while on his way to his job at a plant nursery. The man, Saul Loeza, had lived and worked in the state for the last 30 years and had no criminal record, his family told Vocativ.

“This is so unreal,” said Loeza’s daughter, Michelle, a U.S. citizen. “How is this even happening?”