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Immigrants Face Increased Risk of Scam Activity

Immigrants face increased risk of scam activity

In just the last few months, over 7,300 immigrants from the nation’s border arrived in New York City.  Unfamiliar with the language or the culture, these immigrants seek a better life in the United States.  However, the staggering number of new arrivals to the country has given rise to an increase in scam artists seeking to prey on this population.  Advocates warn against certain pitfalls which could cost immigrants thousands of dollars and even their future in this country.

According to a recent article by Anna Lucente Sterling from Spectrum News 1, the increase in new immigrants in New York City from the southern border has resulted in immigration law scams. Unfortunately, it is common for scams to prey on the vulnerable status of immigrants for financial benefit, often putting the victim at a unique risk of deportation. According to Shaina Coronel, the Director of Communications at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs in New York City, “[o]ur key message is if you need immigration legal advice, only go to a lawyer or someone who is accredited by the U.S. Department of Justice, or an organization recognized by the Department of Justice.”    

About Notario Fraud – What to Watch Out For

Perhaps one of the most common frauds perpetrated against immigrant communities is known as “notario fraud.” This scam involves someone holding themselves out to be an attorney or an individual who is licensed to practice in front of immigration courts. Of course, the scam involves charging immigrants large sums of money for legal assistance by unqualified individuals. In many cases, this type of fraudulent activity results in incorrect legal advice, missed deadlines, and incorrect filings, if any filing was even made.  

The scam often plays on the term “notario publico,” meaning notary public. In many Spanish-speaking countries, a notary public is permitted to practice law and represent clients. Playing off this linguistic confusion, scammers hope to trick unsuspecting immigrants into giving them large amounts of money.

The notario scam recently made headlines when a New York City attorney continued practicing immigration law even after he lost in law license. In the case, the attorney utilized the “ten-year green card scam”, which maintains that an individual can obtain a green card after remaining in the United States for ten years. Of course, no such green card exists. The attorney was found guilty and sentenced to as much as three years in prison for perpetrating the scheme and collecting more than $140,000.00 from his victims.  

Efforts to Connect Vulnerable Immigrants to Essential Resources

Efforts are being made in New York City to provide resources and programs for new immigrants so that important and safe community connections are being made. A recently-launched asylum seeker “navigation center” exemplifies the effort. Organized by Catholic Charities Community Services, the facility seeks to provide essential case management services to newly displaced asylum seekers. The facility is part of a $6.7 million city contract issued last August.  

With increasing numbers of immigrants arriving in American cities with nowhere to go, it is perhaps unsurprising that scam artists seek to take advantage. However, as with any vulnerable population, community leaders and those in power need to establish trustworthy bridges to these communities to offer essential services. An investment in those most vulnerable in this country is an investment in this country.  To learn more about this blog post or if you have any other immigration concerns, please feel free to contact me at