The Division of Consumer Protection and Office for New Americans Alert Consumers to Online English Learning Scams and Phone ScamsOctober 29, 2020
Phone Scammers Extorting Parents & Immigrants by Making Threats to Harm Children or Deportation if they are not Paid
The New York State Division of Consumer Protection and Office for New Americans are alerting consumers about online English learning and phone scams targeting students, parents and immigrants. These scams are based on threats requiring the end consumer to pay money immediately or face repercussions by authorities.
Online scammers claiming to teach English online are requiring people to enter personal information – name, phone number, address – into a database where it is then used to harass and intimidate people into paying money to avoid consequences with the authorities. Phone scammers are extorting parents by texting them a picture of their child — likely obtained from the internet or social media accounts — with a threating message stating they intend to kill the family if they fail to pay the scammers. They are also targeting immigrants by pretending to be from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and then threatening to revoke an individual’s immigration status or face police arrest and deportation, unless payment is made immediately. If you receive any emails, calls or text like this, you should report it to your local police or the proper authorities right away.
“New York State prides itself on assisting all New Yorkers,” said Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, who oversees the Division of Consumer Protection and the Office for New Americans. “People who prey on our vulnerable populations of non-English speakers and immigrants are breaking the law and it will not be tolerated. Consumers should be vigilant to protect themselves and their families.”
Free and easy to maneuver English language lessons are available Statewide through the Office for New Americans’ Cell-Ed remote learning program, which can be accessed 24/7 by calling the New American’s multilingual Hotline at 1-800-566-7636. Cell-Ed is a secure program, accessible on multiple platforms such as call-in, Whatsapp, tablet and computer.
Many sites use names similar to popular English language learning sites. It can be difficult to discern legitimate sites offering real courses from those looking to gather people’s information to scam them. To avoid falling victim to these scams, consumers should follow the tips below:
Online Scams Tips:
- Review the website link. Look for a clear URL that matches the business you are engaging. A recent site example sent by a consumer: https://www.inglessinbarreras.
info/orig-informes-california-links to a site that appears to be for “Ingles Sin Barreras.” However, that site is fraudulent and the real company’s courses are instead available at the link: https://hablemosingles.com. isb-d1-tablet-lx20.html
- Locate a company address. Check the address on a mapping app to see if it exists – and what is located around it.
- Confirm what classes are offered. Many companies do not post their prices,…