As a San Diego immigration attorney, I’ve seen how immigration fraud artists spring up whenever new pro-immigrant laws are passed.

They open up shop, offer special deals, earn quick thousands, then they vanish.

Meanwhile, the immigrants who have been victimized are left to face deportation and removal from the United States.

The New Haitian Ordeal

Two months ago, Haitians living in the U. S. endured the devastation of their home country and loss of loved ones.

Now they face a second ordeal.  Losing their rights to remain here while their country is being rebuilt due to immigration fraud.

This fear has prompted the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to issue a fraud warning to Haitian communities.

Shortly after the earthquake in Haiti, a new Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program was created for Haitians living here.  TPS allows Haitians to live and work legally in the U. S. on a temporary basis as long as the required paperwork is submitted in a timely manner.

Recent estimates show that 200, ooo Haitians may be eligible for TPS relief.  This is plenty opportunity for immigration scam artists who prey on unsuspecting victims.

In New York, allegations of TPS fraud have already surfaced.  According to Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks, his office has received reports of con artists coercing Haitians into paying excessive fees for help with TPS forms.

As I wrote in How To Recognize And Avoid Immigration Fraud (Before You Become A Victim), the most common immigration fraud scheme is the false friend scam.

The False Friend Scam

He speaks to you in your own language.  He seems so nice.  Maybe he comes from your town or village.  Maybe he knows some of the same people you know.

And he’s happy to help you in your quest for immigration benefits.  Of course, you need to pay him something, right?  He’s doing a lot to help you and your family.  He seems so sincere.

Why not trust him?

Good question.

First, he may not be qualified to help you.

The immigration system, despite simple looking forms, is complex.  If there are any problems with your application, it’s unlikely your new friend will be able to help you navigate the rocky road to TPS benefits.

Usually he will not even know how to spot the potential stumbling blocks with your application.

There’s a second reason you need to be cautious.

You cannot assume this nice stranger who speaks your language cares for you like a brother or sister.

Many criminals take advantage of immigrants by appealing to their sense of community.  They act like friends.  They take your money.  Then they disappear.

Be Safe Now, Not Sorry Later

Don’t become the next victim of immigration fraud.

If something doesn’t seem right to you, slow things down and seek a second opinion.  As I learned long ago, it’s better to be safe than sorry.