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Feds warn of fake immigration protection scams in Arizona, other states

In this Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, photo released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement shows foreign nationals being arrested this week during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens in Los Angeles. Immigrant advocates on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, decried a series of arrests that federal deportation agents said aimed to round up criminals in Southern California but they believe mark a shift in enforcement under the Trump administration. (Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP)

PHOENIX — Federal immigration officials are warning immigrants concerned about being deported should not fall for scams offering them some form of protection.

Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe with Immigration and Customs Enforcement said her agency is aware of several such operations in Arizona.

“Scenarios where individuals purporting to be federal immigration officers contact people by phone soliciting money or making other demands in return for promised immigration benefits are fraudulent,” she said in a statement.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman released a statement about similar scams in his state this week.

“It is unconscionable for scam artists to prey on heightened fear in our immigrant communities by pretending to be ICE officers and demanding that families pay up in order to avoid deportation,” he said.

O’Keefe said immigrants who are approached by potential scammers should contact law enforcement, their consulate or ICE’s tip line at 866-DHS-2ICE. Callers can remain anonymous.

KTAR’s Martha Maurer contributed to this report.

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