With the advancements in technology, fraudulent immigration schemes are becoming more common including green card lottery scams and citizenship scams. Unfortunately, immigrants applying for green cards, visas, U.S. citizenship, and other immigration benefits are vulnerable to misinformation and scams. Because of the high hopes and urgency associated with immigration cases, imposters may use this as an opportunity to profit through monetary sums or sensitive information individuals may disclose.
Being aware of the telltale signs of immigration scams will allow you to confront the matter before the damage is done. If you are unsure of the legitimacy of a source, it is advisable to speak to an immigration attorney before proceeding with the request.
Read further to understand common types of scams and how to go about reporting them.
What are Immigration Scams?
Immigration scams are illegal and unsolicited schemes targeting individuals seeking to immigrate. These scams are typically aimed at receiving personal information or money, or instilling fear into their targets.
During the scam, the perpetrator may pretend to be a law firm or government employee to evoke a sense of authority and in some cases, may cite personal information regarding you or a loved one’s case.
These scams can be conducted in a variety of seemingly unsuspicious ways. Some examples of immigration scams include:
- Phone calls
- Public Service Announcements
The types of scams may also vary depending on the information associated with the scheme. For example, scams may involve a person impersonating an immigration lawyer in hopes that you confide in them. Immigration attorney scams may also request money for their ‘services.’
Similarly, green card lottery scams may pretend to increase your odds of receiving a green card or provide false wins in an attempt to receive financial sums. These citizenship scams can look concerningly real, requiring individuals to be very cautious in the requests asked of them.
What to Do If You Are Being Scammed
If you believe you are being targeted in an immigration scam, it is advised you immediately remove yourself from the situation by hanging up the phone, not clicking on any virtual links or attachments, or leaving the premises. In emergency situations where a physical threat is involved, contact your local law enforcement.
The next step is to ensure that any financial and/or personal information given is protected. If you sent any money through credit or debit cards, immediately contact your service provider to dispute the charges. Money sent through wiring apps, gift cards, or mail may also be recovered if proper steps are taken.
For any breaches in personal information including social security numbers or account information, refer to IdentityTheft.gov for a step-by-step recovery plan. When possible, change any related passwords to prevent further cyber-attacks.
Another tip for avoiding immigration scams taking place on your computer or phone is to follow data security guidelines. After a cyber threat, be sure to update your software and run a security scan.
Once you are safe and have taken the necessary precautions, you should look further into the circumstances by conducting a web search on the entity or person named. Being aware of the verified points of contact will allow you to be prepared in case another situation occurs.
How Do I Report Immigration Scams?
Depending on the incident, there may be different options on how to proceed in reporting the scam. Your state’s consumer protection office and the Federal Trade Commission may be able to assist you in cases that violate specific laws.
If the scam is listing a particular agency or law firm, it may be best to contact them to protect other individuals from receiving the same scam. Be sure to check that the number or address you are contacting is certified.
In cases where money or property is lost, your local law enforcement may be able to help you recover your belongings. If you are still uncertain about proceeding forward in reporting the scam, contact an immigration attorney for legal assistance on what to disclose.
Trusted Undocumented Immigration Resources
While scams are unpredictable, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim. Federal and state government agencies have outlined resources to answer any questions you may have regarding immigration. Below are some verified websites to reference.
- U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services
- The American Bar Association
- Protecting Immigrant New Yorkers (PINY) Task Force
While there are other reliable sources available, it is vital to fact-check and verify the source to avoid any fraud.
If you are in contact with a government agency or lawyer, or expect to hear from them, be sure to consult their official website for verified contact information. For further information or concerns, reach out to their point of contact to ensure the number or address you are speaking to is correct.
Certified Immigration and Nationality Lawyers
Law firms are a trusted source available to help individuals with questions regarding their immigration status, including green cards and U.S. citizenship, as well as any other immigration-related concerns. At Reeves Immigration Law Group, our attorneys are Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the State Bar of California making them a go-to resource. Whether you are seeking general information, or are a victim of a scam, our team will listen to your story and craft a personalized approach. Speak with an immigration attorney today for trusted legal counsel.