Con artists and scammers have apparently seized on the recent, high-profile deportations of immigrants in the US in order to rip off people afraid of being detained and removed from the country.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued an urgent fraud alert on Thursday, warning immigrant communities in the state about reports of fraudsters impersonating Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to intimidate immigrants and demand money.

“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,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

“I urge communities to protect themselves by learning about these potential scams – and contacting my office if they suspect fraud. We will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal and bring to justice those who commit fraud against our immigrant communities.”

A statement from the New York attorney general’s office said it had received reports of calls and in-person inquiries made by people claiming to be immigration officials.

“For example, one immigrant living in Queens was approached by four men dressed as ICE agents,” the statement said.

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Featured image courtesy of AP.