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Fraud alert issued after rise in scams against immigrants

ALBANY — State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman on Tuesday issued a fraud alert following what he said was an increase in the number of scams targeting immigrants.

Schneiderman said the scammers are preying on the fear among immigrants since Republican Donald Trump won the presidency.

During the presidential campaign, Trump touted hard-line proposals to reduce illegal immigration and restrict Muslim immigration.

Schneiderman said many scammers pose as government officials seeking to provide protection, aid or documentation.

“In the past two weeks, we’ve seen intense fear and anxiety in immigrant communities,” Schneiderman said. “New York has zero tolerance for anyone who would prey on that fear to defraud immigrants and their families … We will use all the tools at our disposal to bring to justice those who commit fraud against our immigrant communities.”

Schneiderman, a Democrat, said the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights reported an increase of 266 percent in daily calls and a 250 percent increase in walk-ins. The group reported that two days after the polls closed, it received over 100 calls.

Complaints can be reported to the attorney general’s Immigration Services Fraud Unit Hotline at 866-390-2992 or by emailing Civil.Rights@ag.ny.gov. Schneiderman said people will not be asked about their immigration status and that information will not be shared with authorities.

“Over the past two weeks, the fear, anxiety, and uncertainty among immigrant communities has both deepened and intensified in a way that has not been seen for more than a generation,” said Mario Russell, director of immigrant and refugee services for Catholic Charities.

“Today, Catholic Charities stands with the families, children, and workers who have come to America to build their dreams and build their communities; we stand with the attorney general of New York in his important work to protect and safeguard the rights of its newcomers; and we stand for creating a just and compassionate society by affirming the dignity of each person,” Russell said.

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