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shutterstock_501009142The call to strengthen the United States’ borders has opened a new window of opportunity for con artists who are capitalizing on fear and uncertainty. The Boston Globe reported earlier this month that there has been an uptick in scammers posing as federal agents, demanding money and threatening deportation if they’re not paid.

Using a technique known as spoofing, scammers call using a false number that appears to be from the government. In some instances, they demand payment in return for letting their victim remain in the United States; in other cases, they threaten to raid their victim’s home unless a wire transfer is made; and in others they request payment in order to clear-up issues with immigration status.

Other types of immigration scams that the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services warns about (USCIS):

  • Offers to help complete paperwork to stay in the country or help bring relatives to the U.S.
  • Fake websites mimicking that of USCIS which require persons attempting to download necessary forms to pay a fee first. The forms on the USCIS website are free.
  • Fake Form I-20 student visas. Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, are only available to students who are accepted into a Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified school.

Here are some tips to remember:

  • Real immigration officers will never ask for money or threaten deportation if money is not paid.
  • Only obtain and trust immigration information from U.S. government websites. Scammers set up websites that look like they are run by the government, but don’t be too quick to believe these. Make sure that the website ends in dot gov (.gov).
  • Never share your personal documents, such as a passport or birth certificate, with anyone other than a licensed lawyer or authorized personnel. Never sign any blank documents.
  • Never make a payment over the phone or pay using a wire transfer.

Targets of these scams are reluctant to report their cases to the police in fear of exposing their immigration status. If you or someone you know has seen an immigration scam or been the victim of one, it’s important to report it to the Federal Trade Commission or the Attorney General’s Office.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Program and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

 

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