This Sordid Trick Is Used To Scam Many New American Immigrants

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Photo: Flickr/burr0ughs

The old law of attraction, “like attracts like,” explains the psychology behind many of our daily decisions.In the case of immigration fraud, it is used to explain why many scammers target immigrants belonging to the same ethnic or racial group as them. 

Immigration fraud often consists of individuals who are not authorised to provide legal advice to immigrants charging for such advice. One common misconception among immigrants of Hispanic descent that enables these scams is that notary public, or notario publico, is an attorney. 

The New York Attorney General’s office warns:

“They seek to gain advantage over other providers by claiming to identify with the ethnic, racial, national origin or community-based affiliations of the immigrant group.” 

These fraudulent immigration service providers often target their own communities and utilise “word-of-mouth” marketing in the community to lure immigrants into their practice. 

“I consider this not just immigration fraud, but a robbery,” says Irina Matiychenko, director of immigration protection unit of the New York Legal Assistance Group. According to her, immigrants who earn very little money are often willing to spend it to begin or expedite their legalization process. The immigrants seeking legal assistance are more likely to trust someone who speaks their language or comes from the same background. 

“People of Hispanic descent they will not go see a Russian attorney, they have enough of their own. And Russian people will go to Brighton Beach [to see a Russian attorney],” says Matiychenko. “[The fraudulent immigration service providers] live in those communities, they know their needs and they exploit it. This is exploitation of people’s dream.” 

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