SCAM ALERT!

As immigrants in South Florida and other parts of the US seek to ensure their status is legal, unscrupulous individuals aware of their plight continue to perpetuate costly scams against them.

Some are taking advantage of people seeking to go to Canada as immigration regulations in the US become more stringent. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has cautioned people of a telephone scam in which persons pretend to be calling from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the agency that facilitates arrival of immigrants to Canada.

Using false caller IDs to make the call appear legal, scammers call residents threatening them they’re under investigation, or there’s a legal case against them. They request immediate payment by way of money transfer, prepaid or gift card to avert the alleged investigation.

The IRCC cautions it isn’t calling people in the US, and doesn’t collect money or payments by phone, by money transfer, or by prepaid or gift cards. They don’t ask people to confirm basic personal information they already gave on an immigration application (for example, date of birth or passport number). And, they don’t threaten to  arrest or deport people.

USCIS also disclosed it doesn’t do any of those things. It cautions anyone getting calls like these not to make wire payments, or give out personal information. If residents have applied for a Canadian visa, they should immediately call the Canadian immigration authorities.

If the call relates to an immigration case with USCIS, people should immediately call USCIS’s National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 to inquire if there’s a problem with their immigration application.

USCIS also warns of another con where scammers are ripping off undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses. A valid driver’s license is a critical document needed to verify one’s legal immigration status to work in South Florida and other US regions. This document requirement has created a critical demand for driver’s licenses, and scammers are taking advantage of this demand.

Recently, a couple in Tampa, Florida was sentenced to multiple years in prison for scamming immigrants of over $740,000 purporting to provide them with driver’s licenses. The immigrants were charged fees of $500 and $1,300 each to obtain drivers licenses, based on fraudulent immigration documents the scammers made them complete.

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