En Español Know Your Rights
Source: Indypendent
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Scam targets immigrants

State working to fine job agencies
for stealing finder’s fees: Peralta

As the economy flounders and more people seek work, state legislators
are trying to stiffen the fines on employment agencies that attempt to swindle
clients out of a finder’s fee.

State
Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D−Jackson Heights) said his office has been flooded
with complaints about such agencies in the last two months. The agencies
promise clients a job, accept a payment between $100 and $150 and then send
them off to a false address or a business not looking for extra help, Peralta
said.

“It seems like Consumer Affairs has been doing
its job,” Peralta said at a news conference Friday. “But guess what? They’re
back.”

Julissa Bissono, a coordinator with the immigrant rights nonprofit Make the Road New York, said her agency has also seen a sharp increase in
complaints from immigrants, whose job searches cost them both time and money.

“Sometimes
this is their last $100 and they spend it and can’t get it back,”
Bissono
said.

Corona resident Julio Ruiz, 30, a
Honduran immigrant, said he paid one agency $120 for construction jobs only to
be sent to locations that were not hiring.

“I’m
hoping not only for myself, but for other victims that there is some help,” he
said through an interpreter.

Of 368
licensed employment agencies in the city, 40 are located in Jackson Heights
and Elmhurst,
Peralta said. The city Department of Community Affairs has padlocked nine of
them, he said.

Peralta
urged residents to dial 311 to report unscrupulous or unlicensed employment
agencies, noting the city service does not ask questions about immigration
status.

He also
said the state Legislature is pushing forward a bill that would increase the
fines for employment agency violations from $100 to $500 per infraction. The
bill would also classify an accumulation of three or more violations over five
years as a misdemeanor crime.