The US government is warning family members in Latin America of a scam involving the unaccompanied minors who have crossed the border into the United States. Typically the scammers will call parents soliciting money for travel expenses or administrative costs for their migrant children.
Consumer Education Specialist Jennifer Leach, of the FTC, stated in a press release that what makes the callers so believable is that they typically have the names and other information of the child for which they are soliciting money. They speak Spanish and usually identify themselves as workers of a non-profit charity, a social worker or a case worker for the government. They typically know details such as a childs location and will lure in the parents by telling them their child is about to be set free from detention.
The caller will then tell the parent they need money for their transfer and that a money wire transfer, a money order or a debit transaction is required to cover the childs necessary costs.
Jennifer Leach stated: Never send money to anyone who contacts you and asks for money. Thats a scam.The people in charge of reuniting these children with their families will never ask you for money.
Even more disturbing is that federal authorities are trying to figure out how private information about the unaccompanied child migrants, who are being held in two U.S. military bases, got into the hand of scammers.
At this point the FBI says no arrests have been made in the case.
The Associated Press reports the FBI is trying to determine how many people have been victimized by this scheme.
More than 63,000 undocumented child immigrants entered the United States since October 2013, unaccompanied, with hopes of gaining permanent residence, creating a humanitarian crisis in the border states. Authorities say these kinds of crises unfortunately lend themselves as an opportunity for scams, targeting families when they’re the most vulnerable.
The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement Parent Hotline has been set up for family members to call and get information on their loved ones: 1-800-203-7001