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Warning: Refugees and Asylum Seekers Beware of SCAMS

African Human Rights Coalition WARNING to all Asylum Seekers and Refugees:

As a new immigrant to the U.S.A. you could be vulnerable to frauds and scams:

When you come to the USA there are many situations that may be new to you. It takes time to become accustomed to your new country. Unfortunately there are people here, in the U.S.A. and from outside the country, who want to try and take money from others, illegally. If you are uncertain of anything always ensure you have an advisor or mentor here in the USA who is experienced and understands how things work. So please always ensure you get good advice when you are new to dealing with important matters like finance, jobs, banking etc. Ask questions of the mentors you know and trust. The first rule is if money seems easy or something feels too quick or easy – get advice to ensure it is NOT a scam. As a general rule, no one hires anyone in America to do anything without meeting them in person first and doing an extensive interview. So if someone says to you that you have the job in an email or by text or on a telephone - without even meeting you, and then sends you a check (cheque) to cash for the work, be assured it’s a SCAM.

So here is what happened:

Two Asylum seekers and one refugee have been caught up unknowingly in the following SCAM.

You apply for a job through an advertisement on a website or Craigslist where you offer your professional services as a babysitter, nanny, or other kind of caregiver. Con artists are out there cheating caregivers with a counterfeit check scheme (fraudulent check) . They send you a check in advance of your job and ask you to send payment to a third party, like a landlord or moving company for example. Details may vary, but, in general, the scam works like this:

Someone replies to your listing on the site, or you reply to their ad. They say they want to hire you to care for their child, parent, or even a pet. They often say they live out of state and are moving to your area soon. They may ask you – with a very persuasive story that tugs at your heartstrings – to accept delivery of special items or medical equipment their loved one will need while in your care. They send you a check to deposit and ask you to keep some money as payment for your services and then transfer the rest to a another person – supposedly to pay for the goods or services.

What’s the problem? The check and the third party turn out to be fake. It takes only a day or two for your bank to make the money available to you, but it can take weeks for your bank to determine a check is phony. If you already withdrew that money, you’re on the hook to pay back the bank. If you’ve already transferred the money to the third party, it’s gone – like sending cash. And, since the recipient can pick up the money from a different money transfer location than the one you sent it to, it’s nearly impossible to find the recipient. That’s how these con artists avoid detection.

So how can you protect yourself? If a potential client urges you to transfer money using a service like Western Union or MoneyGram, it’s probably a scam. Don’t send money to someone you don’t know, either in cash or through a money transfer service. Likewise, don’t deposit a check from someone you don’t know and then transfer the money. No matter how convincing the story, it’s a lie. And, as always, don’t respond to any messages that ask for your personal or financial information, regardless of whether the message comes as an email, a phone call, a text, or an ad. Today I spoke to the FBI and USPS Fraud division who confirm this scam. Please can you ensure that when working with refugees and asylum seekers you alert them to these sorts of things. In one instance a refugee had his bank account closed and he was almost arrested fro depositing a fraudulent check. Thanks for taking note. Pass this along.

Here is part of a check sent to an asylum seeker, who was told she should deposit the check and keep $700 and send the balance of $3080 to a "moving company" in lieu of the arrival of a sickly mother who the asylum seeker would be taking care of.

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