Police are searching for four suspects who allegedly impersonated immigration officers in order to rob a man in East Williamsburg earlier this month.
The 25-year-old victim told the cops that he was riding his bicycle near Johnson Avenue and Humboldt Street on July 11th when four men jumped out of a gray minivan and pushed him to the ground. The assailants allegedly displayed silver shields and identified themselves as ICE officers, before removing $60 from the man's wallet.
Police said that the four men then fled in their vehicle, but were briefly caught on camera in the below surveillance footage.
In February of this year, immigrant advocates, joined by Queens Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, rallied to raise awareness about a similar scam, in which four men wearing Immigration and Customs Enforcement jackets reportedly robbed a man in Woodside. After the impersonators threatened to deport the victim, he handed over $250, the advocates said.
At the time, Van Bramer warned that this was not a one time scam, and predicted that such shakedowns could become more common as a result of President Trump's anti-immigrant positions. “There are a lot of people who are on edge, there are a lot of people who are fearful, and that has created an opportunity for some who would prey upon innocent people,” the councilman said.
The New York Attorney General's Office also confirmed in February that there'd been an increase in reports of these ICE impersonations. We've reached out to the AG's office to see if such reports have continued to rise, and will update if we hear back.
A spokesperson for the NYPD could not confirm whether or not the recent robbery was believed to be connected to the incident in February, but said that "all aspects of this case are being investigated."
The Attorney General's Office encourages people to report immigration services fraud at (866) 390-2992 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A primer on immigrants' rights when facing fraud is here.