Unfortunately, there are people out there looking to scam immigrants. As an immigrant, this can cost you money and stress. It may also lead to serious consequences for your immigration status or lead to identity theft that could have a long-term impact on your financial future.
Here are some common signs of immigration scams and steps you can take to ensure you stay safe.
Types of Scams
Many immigrant scammers use the following methods to deceive immigrants and their families for financial gain:
A spam victim may receive a call that appears to be from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Scammers can hide the real number or mix up one or two of the digits may be mixed up in order to make it seem like a legitimate call. The scammer may say that they are from “U.S. immigration” and request personal information or payment. However, remember that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will never ask for these over the phone.
Fake “ICE agents” will badger immigrants or give them fake warrants, threatening to deport them if they fail to pay a few hundred or even thousands of dollars. Remember, real ICE agents will not let you avoid arrest in exchange for money.
Diversity visa scam
The scammer may impersonate the U.S. State Department and send the victim an email, claiming that they won the diversity visa lottery. They will ask for your personal information and money sent to Western Union—something that the government would never do.
The victim may be encouraged to fill out an online immigration form and pay “USCIS fees” through a website that is very similar to the one of the U.S. government. The victims are led to believe that the money is going to immigration fees when it’s actually going to scammers.
Signs of Scammers
Don’t fall for tactics of immigrant scammers. Here are some important signs to look out for:
The news is too good to be true.
If an immigration attorney says you don’t qualify for a green card but this one says you do, it may well be a scam. In addition, remember that you won’t be able to avoid deportation by paying ICE officials any amount.
Any guarantee of a specific result.
Qualified immigration attorneys and other representatives know that no case has a guaranteed result that an individual will receive a green card. Being 100% guaranteed a specific result for your immigration case can be a clear sign of a scammer.
Communicating in a way the government would not.
Any official U.S. government website or email address will always end in “.gov.” If this isn’t the case it’s probably a scam. In addition, remember than any official from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will never request personal information about your case over the phone.
Strange payment methods.
If you are being asked to pay up in a strange way, such as through Western Union, Paypal, or even a gift card, it’s a scam. The USCIS has clear instructions for paying fees by check or money order made out to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” You will never receive a call or email about failing to pay a fee; the USCIS will return your application instead. There are certain situations where you may pay using a credit card, but keep in mind you should never be asked to do so over the phone or by email.
Contact a Seasoned Immigrant Attorney in Tampa
It’s imperative to seek out a legitimate attorney who can ensure your immigrant rights are protected and you are not taken advantage of by scammers. For over 40 years, the compassionate immigration attorneys at Maney Gordon Zeller have been helping immigrants achieve the American dream. We will treat your case with the utmost care and help you pursue your goals.
Contact our firm at (800) 708-4399 to schedule your free case review with one of our immigration attorneys.