A Queens councilman says scammers are targeting illegal immigrants, shaking them down for cash claiming hey will be deported if they refuse.
Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer says the scammers pose as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, even wearing uniforms. One incident took place Monday afternoon on 65th Street in the Woodside area of the borough.
A man says he coughed up $250 to a crew of 4 fake ICE officers because they threatened him with deportation. When he got home his wife contacted the councilman's office for help.
"Basically what we have here are scammers, trying to make quick buck, based off fact some are terrified," Van Bramer says.
Van Bramer and immigration advocacy leaders held a news conference Tuesday night to warn the community. The organization "Make the Road" is reminding folks that they should not give any money to anyone claiming to be a police officer or member of ICE.
The NYPD says there have been no formal complaints made about this scam but activists say the victims are afraid to come forward because of their legal status.
The police say that New York City law states that immigration status is confidential. City employees (including law enforcement officers) are not allowed to ask about immigration status in most situations.
A total of 41 foreign nationals were arrested this week in New York City and the surrounding areas during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by ICE aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens. The feds say that the vast majority -- 38 of those arrested -- had criminal convictions.