Phone Scams Worry Hazleton Residents

HAZLETON -- Members of the Hispanic community in Hazleton are the targets of a new phone scam. Their immigration status is being called into question and the scammers are demanding money.

Police say the scam began earlier this week and already residents received numerous phone calls and that has the Hazleton community concerned.

Hazelton Police Chief Jerry Speziale is using Facebook to urge Hazleton residents not to answer calls from this number.

He tells Newswatch 16 this isn't your average phone scam; the scammer is using a deceiving device using the Washington D.C. area code.

"They can use the actual number that looks like it's coming from the Department of Homeland Security, or ICE (Immigration or Customs Enforcement) so they kind of trick you to think you're calling this number back," said the chief.

Hazleton police say the scammer asks for anywhere between hundreds to thousands of dollars from unsuspecting victims telling them they can help with their immigration status.

Police believe the number can be traced out of the country.

Amilcar Arroyo immigrated to Hazleton more than 40 years ago. He says there have been other scams targeting Hispanics living in Hazleton but nothing like this.

"Immigration calls you specifically when your case is on and they call you for a specific reason. They don't ask for money. They don't ask for money unless you have a case open with a number," said Arroyo.

Chief Speziale doesn't know if any other areas in our area have received these type of phone calls.

He believes Hazleton is being targeted because of the large Hispanic population.

"These scams today the way the internet is designed with telephone spoofing, it's so easy to trick people," Chief Speziale added.

Hazleton police say they are investigating the phone calls and are urging people not to give money over the phone and not to fall for the scam.

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