US Government Targets Immigration Scams

13 Jun 2011


HOUSTON: In an effort to stop scams that charge immigrants for bogus services, US immigration officials in Texas had sued two notaries public in Edinburg, accusing them of offering fraudulent immigration services.

The officials are stepping up efforts to prosecute con artists and educate immigrants about the schemes, according to an executive summary of the initiative released today by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The effort is starting in seven cities, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, Fresno, California, and San Antonio, Texas and will expand nationwide, according to the summary.

The scammers "target people who are among the most vulnerable," said Edith Ramirez, a Democrat, one of the five members of the Federal Trade Commission, in a statement.

Criminals lure victims by increasingly using the internet as well as word of mouth, fliers and paid advertisements on the radio or newspapers, the summary said.

The Obama administration held a news conference today in Washington attended by officials from the citizenship and immigration services agency, the FTC, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Justice Department.

Often the scams involve someone posing as a licensed attorney charging immigrants to file for benefits for which they are ineligible or to furnish forms that the government provides for free, according to the summary.

A common scam in Spanish-speaking communities takes advantage of immigrants' confusion with the word "notario," the government said.


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