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Protecting Immigrant New Yorkers Task Force Issues Comprehensive Guide to Help Government Offices and Law Enforcement Agencies Crack Down on Immigration Assistance Fraud


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Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage,  Main Phone: 413-687-5160,  E-mail: tyaku@nyic.org
New York  (Wednesday, February 3, 2016)

Protecting Immigrant New Yorkers Task Force Issues Comprehensive Guide to Help Government Offices and Law Enforcement Agencies Crack Down on Immigration Assistance Fraud

 (New York, NY) The Protecting Immigrant New Yorkers (PINY) Task Force issued today a comprehensive guide for New York State’s government and law enforcement as well as advocates to help crack down on immigrant assistance fraud. The PINY Taskforce is comprised of community-based organizations, not-for-profit legal service providers, and government and law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, and local levels. This comprehensive guide is issued on the second anniversary of the creation of the PINY Task Force. More information on the Task Force can be found at www.nyic.org/fraud/PINY.   

Immigrant assistance services fraud, known more commonly as “notario fraud”, is a rampant problem in immigrant communities nationwide. Con artists posing as immigration attorneys or authorized immigration representatives victimize thousands of New Yorkers in our state each year by charging fees for immigration assistance services that are never provided. Immigration assistance fraud is an under-reported crime in the United States. According to the Federal Trade Commission, more than 890 complaints of immigration services fraud were made in the United States in 2013, 100 of which were lodged in New York State through the FTC and the New York State New Americans Hotline. Government officials and immigration advocates expect an increase in fraudulent activities targeting immigrants as Congress renews its debate regarding federal comprehensive immigration reform.

To tackle this issue, PINY’s guide, “Collaborating to Protect New Yorkers from Immigration Fraud: A Resource Guide For Law Enforcement, Government and Advocates” provides government and law enforcement with the tools to crackdown on immigration assistance fraud. The Guide outlines the common ways consumers fall victim to this type of fraud; highlights the laws under which a case are commonly brought; details considerations for law enforcement when working with immigrant victims; provides contact information for relevant agencies engaged in helping to build enforcement cases and educate the public; and, lifts up best practices from recently enforced fraud cases. This first of its kind guide also details the new private right of action provision in the New York State law in these cases. The guide is now publicly available for download.

“We are extremely proud of the work that the NYIC and our PINY partners have been able to achieve over the last two years, including this latest, concrete tool that will serve to enhance protections against a problem that has often proven too challenging to tackle by individual groups,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “For immigrant communities, consumer scams surrounding the provision of legal services are sadly common occurrences. We believe that this Resource Guide, which we have worked on with PINY members for the better part of last year, will show the importance of collaboration and partnerships and will encourage all jurisdictions across our State to devote an increased focus on these issues. It is important for our communities to know that they can seek protection from scams that affect their day-to-day lives and that the safety and integrity of their communities is a priority to our government and our law enforcement.”

“For too long, con-artists have been committing egregious acts of fraud and victimizing thousands of people in our state. This new invaluable resource will assist jurisdictions across the state in the prosecution these bad actors and help put the brakes on immigration scams,” said Deputy Secretary of State for Economic Opportunity Jorge I. Montalvo, who oversees the New York State Office for New Americans. “I commend everyone on the task force for their great work in putting together this comprehensive guide to better assist and protect our immigrant communities.”

Letitia James, New York City Public Advocate, said “The PINY Task Force is dedicated to resourceful and compassionate advocacy on behalf of all immigrant New Yorkers. This comprehensive guide of government resources will help combat the fraud that many immigrants fall victim to while seeking legal help. I commend the PINY Task Force for their leadership, and look forward to working together to protect our vibrant immigrant communities.” 

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The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC)  is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees. The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.


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