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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 6, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Immigration, , ,   

    Kidnapping scam targets families of missing migrants 

    By Greg Collier

    Whenever we discuss the kidnapping scam, we always like to remind our readers that kidnappings for ransom are quite rare in the United States. But what if you were from a country where kidnappings happened often enough to make the scam seem more believable? That is exactly what is happening to families who live in the US who have family members trying to cross our southern border.

    For those of you who may not know, the kidnapping scam is when a scammer calls you and tries to convince you that a loved one has been kidnapped. Often, they’ll also put someone on the phone who sounds like they’re in distress, who is supposed to be your loved one. The scammers will then demand payment it gift cards, cryptocurrency, money transfer or some other form of untraceable payment. Now, this scam is being perpetrated on those who have had loved ones go missing while trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States.

    NBC News has relayed a story from a New Jersey woman whose brother was trying to come here from Ecuador to make a better life for himself and his family. After he crossed the border into the United States, he got lost in the Texas desert before the battery on his cell phone ran out.

    Two months after her brother disappeared, she posted his picture and her contact information on a Facebook page for missing migrants. It wasn’t long before the woman was contacted by scammers claiming to have her brother. They are said to have sent her a picture of her brother holding a sign with that day’s date on it. Then they sent her a video of someone who was supposed to be her brother, but the man’s face was partially covered. The scammers demanded $5000 in ransom which she paid through money transfers. Then all communication with the supposed kidnappers stopped. Her brother is still missing.

    It turned out that the photograph used was photoshopped, and the details the scammers knew about the woman’s brother were taken from social media.

    In 2021, almost 700 migrants died trying to cross the border. That was an increase of over 300% from the previous year, and that’s only the deaths that we know about. There could be countless others.

    Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that the families in America can do to prevent this scam outside of not posting their information to social media, but sometimes, family members are found this way. The woman from the story regrets not having her brother call 911 before she lost contact with him. In this instance, it’s better to be picked up by Border Protection than being left to fend for themselves in the desert.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Immigration, ,   

    More info on stimulus delays 

    More info on stimulus delays

    Even with a large number of Americans having already received their economic impact payments, many still have not. We’ve been receiving a lot of questions about the delays and we’re going to try to answer them as best as possible. However, please keep in mind we are not tax experts and we defer all final authority to the IRS’s Coronavirus and Economic Impact Payments website.

    The most common questions we receive are about the stimulus payments and Social Security. While we don’t have the answer for every situation, from what we understand, payments are supposed to start going out this week. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone on Social Security benefits will receive there’s this week so you should plan accordingly. From everything that we’ve read, if you receive Social Security benefits you’ll receive the stimulus payment the same way you receive your Social Security payments even if you’re not required to file taxes.

    If the IRS does not have any payment information on file for you, you’ll receive a paper check if your eligible for the stimulus payment. Paper checks will be issued in order of annual adjusted gross income. That means that the people who claimed the least income on their 2018 or 2019 tax returns will receive their paper checks first. This article from Forbes contains a schedule of when paper checks are scheduled to be issued depending on your gross income. The highest earners may have to wait until September before receiving their paper checks.

    Lastly, we’ve been hearing some discussion about whether or not US citizens who are married to immigrants will receive a stimulus payment. There is an element of truth to this but it’s not as cut and dry as most people think. If a U.S. citizen is married to an immigrant who does not have a Social Security number and file taxes jointly, neither person is eligible for the stimulus payment. However, if the U.S. citizen filed a single return, they are eligible for the stimulus payment. If a U.S. citizen is married to an immigrant who has a Social Security number and filed taxes jointly, both persons are eligible for the stimulus payment.

    We hope this clears up some of the confusion.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Immigration   

    Is legal immigration the real problem? 

    Is legal immigration the real problem?

    Ever since the 2016 Presidential Election campaign, immigration has been a hot button issue in our country. Even though many people and politicians want to close off our borders for no other reason than the people coming to the US are different from them, the majority of people just want immigrants to come here legally. To put it bluntly, most people just want immigrants to sign the register in the way in. However, that’s easy to say if you were born here. In reality, the path to citizenship in the United States is neither fast nor cheap.

    According to the Dallas Morning News, most immigrants coming through our Southern Border who want to come here legally can have their process take anywhere from seven to 20 years and cost them thousands of dollars. Indian immigrants with advanced degrees could potentially have a wait as long as 150 years. That’s not a typo. Their wait could be longer than they’ll be alive. The immigration process in the US has not been updated in decades and there isn’t enough staff to process all the applicants in anything that remotely resembles a timely fashion. We tell the immigrants to get in line but there’s really no line to speak of.

    While there are some politicians who say they want to deport all illegal immigrants n our country, to do so would cause an economic backlash as there millions of tax-paying immigrants in our country. These immigrants are mostly doing the work that citizens who are born here might find beneath them. If the process to become a US citizen were more streamlined and less expensive we could see an unprecedented economic boom. Then again we should address the elephant in the room that there are too many people in positions of power who don’t want immigrants here only because the immigrants may speak a different language or adhere to a different religion than them. Until these types of politicians are removed from power, there will never be an easy path to citizenship.

  • Geebo 8:36 am on July 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Immigration   

    Are immigration raids what we really need? 

    Are immigration raids what we really need?

    Immigration has been a contentious topic in our country since the start of the 2016 Presidential campaign. Today, the focus seems to be on the country’s southern border even though most people here illegally are from overseas on expired visas. However, demonizing a certain group of immigrants is nothing new in our country’s history. In the 19th Century, Irish and Italian immigrants were being openly discriminated against even though that seems unimaginable today. It seems that every generation or so, certain politicians seem to inevitably stir up anti-immigrant sentiment and today’s climate is no exception.

    In a move that seems more like an intimidation tactic than a law enforcement operation, the government has made it known that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will be conducting raids against thousands of undocumented families. According to the New York Times, investigators might even detain immigrants who happened to be on the scene, even though they were not targets of the raids. The government already knows about many of the families who are here illegally and have given them notice to leave the country. However, these raids may be mostly pointless as ICE officers have no legal authority to forcibly enter someone’s home.

    Instead of expending resources on these raids, why isn’t the government trying to make the path to citizenship to easier? Wouldn’t it be better to have new groups of taxpaying citizens rather than having a targeted group of people fearing for their well-being?

    As we previously mentioned in this post, immigration scares are nothing new in our country but they go against one of the tenets of our great nation. The poem on the Statue of Liberty known as “The New Colossus”, seems to be falling on unironically deaf ears.

    Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
    With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
    Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
    A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
    Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
    Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
    Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
    The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
    “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
    With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    Now it seems that the Government is trying to close that golden door on the very people that the Statue of Liberty is supposed to welcome.

  • Geebo 10:00 am on March 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Immigration, , , , ,   

    Tax collection, Homeland Security, and yet another puppy scam 

    Tax collection, Homeland Security, and yet another puppy scam

    It’s time again to bring you some more scams that are happening around the country that could ultimately impact your area and possibly someone you know.

    First up is a twist on the typical IRS scam. In the typical IRS scam, someone will call a victim on the phone pretending to be from the IRS trying to pressure the victim into making an immediate payment on a tax bill that doesn’t actually exist. The flaw in this scam is that the IRS rarely calls a taxpayer to settle any taxes owed. Instead, the IRS is known for mailing out any delinquent tax notices. That’s where this new scam being reported out of Sullivan County, Tennessee takes it up a notch. The scammers are mailing out letters claiming to be from a “Tax Enforcement Department” which then directs potential victims to call a phone number to make a payment. If you receive a letter like this and you feel like you may owe the IRS some money always call the IRS directly at (800) 829-1040.

    Speaking of government agencies, our next scam involves possible the most fear-inducing branch of the government and that’s the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS recently released a warning stating that scammers were calling people posing as the DHS by spoofing official DHS phone numbers. That way when someone receives the call it appears to be from DHS itself when in reality it’s just a scammer. The scammers are said to be claiming that the people they call have been victims of identity theft and ask the victims for personal information or threatening people with immigration offenses if they don’t make a payment right then and there. Some of these scammers are even sending out emails using an uscis.org email address. That is similar to but not the web address of DHS which is actually uscis.gov If you receive one of these phone calls or emails, the DHS requests that you call them at 1-800-323-8603.

    Lastly, we have an online puppy scam that has an added level of cruelty added to it. Luckily, no puppies actually exist in this scam if you can call that lucky. An online puppy scammer is said to be taking money from victims over PayPal as a deposit for a purebred puppy. The phony breeder then directs all of their victims to an address in Atlanta, Georgia to pick up the fictitious puppy. According to FOX 5 Atlanta, people have driven from as far away as Detroit. The man who lives at the Atlanta address has had to tell all the people who showed up on his doorstep that they’ve been scammed. Buying puppies online is always a risky venture as there are a plethora of scams involving puppies, some of which end up with puppies being bred in backyard puppy mills. When searching for a new pet for your family you should always deal with a locally licensed breeder or your local shelter. You’re less likely to run into scammers this way.

  • Geebo 10:00 am on January 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Immigration,   

    Immigration scam targeting college students 

    Immigration scam targeting college students

    As we’re sure you’re well aware of, immigration has been a hot button topic in this country for a few years now. It’s such a divisive topic that the subject has stopped the US government from fully functioning. Even though most ‘illegal’ immigration comes from people overstaying their visas instead of our southern border hasn’t stopped our government officials from fighting over a wall that would accomplish little to nothing. In today’s politically charged environment just imagine how those here on foreign visas must feel. Well, leave it to the scammers of the world to take advantage of just such a situation.

    A phone scam is targeting foreign college students who are here on study visas. The caller purports to be from either the US Government or the embassy of the victim’s home country. The students are told that they are in danger of being deported. Being thousands of miles away from your family coupled with a potential language barrier could cause victim’s of this scam to panic and give in to whatever the scammers are demanding. As usual, the scammers are either looking for personal information or money. In one instance a student at Carnegie Mellon University was instructed to transfer close to $30,000 to a foreign bank account as ‘collateral’ for her to stay in the US. While the latest round of this scam is targeting college students, foreign citizens here on work visas aren’t immune from this scam either.

    If you or someone you know is a student visiting this country and may have been a target of this scam please let them know this is not how matters like this are handled in the US even in today’s political climate. It’s extremely rare for any government agency to contact someone by phone let alone demanding money. With today’s politics of fear, it’s understandable how successful this scam could be, however, you shouldn’t have to live in fear while visiting here. If you receive one of these calls contact your school’s administration and they should be more than happy to assist you.

  • Geebo 10:00 am on January 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Immigration   

    Amid shutdown, federal employees forced to sell belongings on Facebook and craigslist 

    Amid shutdown, federal employees forced to sell belongings on Facebook and craigslist

    Today, the government shutdown reaches its 24th day. This is the longest government shutdown in American history. 800,000 federal employees are going without their paychecks because the President is throwing a tantrum like a tangerine toddler over a border wall that would actually do little to stop the influx of immigrants that we should be welcoming into this country. Most illegal immigration doesn’t even take place at the country’s southern border with Mexico but rather through people who have stayed in the country after their travel visas have expired. But far be it from the truth getting in the way of a President who was elected on a platform of fear and intolerance. Meanwhile, the federal employees caught in the crossfire are in danger of having their lives ruined.

    Due to their lack of income, many locked out employees have taken to selling their possessions on places like Facebook and craigslist. So not only are they being driven into poverty by their own government but now these employees will have to deal with many scammers and con artists that prey on people like this on the less than scrupulous classifieds sites and marketplace apps like craigslist. The Coast Guard even published a survival guide recommending their members try to get part-time jobs as secret shoppers which has a well-known history of being mostly a scam.

    To make matters worse, the President has the temerity to claim that the unpaid federal employees are behind him and his ridiculous wall.

    President Donald Trump, when asked about the hardship facing workers, said federal employees “are on my side.”

    “You take a look at social media, so many of those people saying ‘it’s very hard for me, it’s very hard for my family, but Mr. President you’re doing the right thing. Get it done.’ They’re patriots,” he said.

    Then again, what do you expect from someone who made a business out of declaring bankruptcy on multiple occasions? However, Mr. Trump right now is the worst kind of bankrupt, morally bankrupt.

  • Geebo 10:14 am on December 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Immigration   

    Are Facebook employees looking to jump ship? Also, hate speech is still a problem for the platform. 

    Are Facebook employees looking to jump ship? Also, hate speech still a problem for the platform.

    For several years, Facebook was considered the place to work in Silicon Valley. Many considered it to be the holy grail of employment with Facebook even being ranked the best place to work in America by employer review site Glassdoor.com. Facebook even touted this fact themselves in a corporate video where they almost break their arm patting themselves on the back.

    However, the ranking and the video all took place before Facebook started to be embroiled in the myriad of scandals that have shaken the foundations at the Menlo Park headquarters. According to CNBC, a number of current Facebook employees have been reaching out to former colleagues supposedly looking for new employment opportunities. That’s not unusual for many companies but former Facebook employees have said they’ve seen a sharp increase recently in current Facebook employees looking to leave the company. One of the problems facing current Facebook employees is that Facebook holds a lot of sway in Silicon Valley and can basically determine your future employment opportunities. Again, according to CNBC, if you leave Facebook in the ‘wrong’ way, you can be labeled as “non-regrettable”. Not only does this status mean you could never work for Facebook again, but it could also keep you out of many other positions in the tech industry.

    To make matters worse for Facebook, The Daily Beast has published a report where they documented a deluge of posts that could be considered hate speech by most rational people, yet Facebook failed to do anything about these posts until The Daily Beast pointed them out to Facebook. The majority of these posts were calling for violence against immigrants. Even though The Daily Beast reported many of these posts to Facebook, the social network failed to remove all of them saying that some of the calls for violence didn’t violate their nebulous community standards. Again, this lends credence to the theory that Facebook wants to keep as many users engaged as possible even if it’s through inflammatory content. Facebook’s so-called commitment to stopping hate speech seems little more than lip service to anyone who actually tried to do something about it. Any private company, and by private we mean that it’s not a government-run institution, that not only allows but encourages their platform to be used for hate cannot have its users best interest at heart.

  • Geebo 10:59 am on January 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Immigration   

    How to vote with your dollar over new immigration policies 

    How to vote with your dollar over new immigration policies

    Are you a politically active consumer? Do you want to either show your support or opposition to the recent immigration executive order issued by President Donald Trump? Well, we’re here to help with what companies you may want to support or avoid depending on your political leaning.

    Apple CEO Tim Cook had the following to say…

    “Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do. I’ve heard from many of you who are deeply concerned about the executive order issued yesterday restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. I share your concerns. It is not a policy we support,”

    After their previous kerfuffle Uber CEO Travis Kalanick added this…

    “This order has far broader implications as it also affects thousands of drivers who use Uber and come from the listed countries … We are working out a process to identify these drivers and compensate them pro bono during the next three months to help mitigate some of the financial stress and complications with supporting their families”

    Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had similar concerns…

    “Trump’s actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all,” wrote Hastings. “Worse, these actions will make America less safe (through hatred and loss of allies) rather than more safe. A very sad week, and more to come with the lives of over 600,000 Dreamers here in a America under imminent threat. It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity.”

    The CEO of President Trump’s favorite social networking platform, Jack Dorsey of Twitter, added this…

    “The Executive Order’s humanitarian and economic impact is real and upsetting,” wrote Dorsey, linking to a similar statement from the Internet Association on Twitter. “We benefit from what refugees and immigrants bring to the U.S.”

    Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos issued the following statement

    We’re a nation of immigrants whose diverse backgrounds, ideas, and points of view have helped us build and invent as a nation for over 240 years. No nation is better at harnessing the energies and talents of immigrants. It’s a distinctive competitive advantage for our country—one we should not weaken.

    Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has stated that not only do they oppose the ban but they will be hiring 10,000 immigrants to help fill their positions.

    “There are more than 65 million citizens of the world recognized as refugees by the United Nations, and we are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business.”

    Airbnb head Brian Chesky has offered assistance to those affected by the ban…

    “Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right and we must stand with those who are affected,”

    Also such industry luminaries as Google, Microsoft, IBM, HP, Yelp, and Facebook all oppose the ban.

    This is far from a comprehensive list but will give you enough information to make informed choices on where to spend your money or whose services you want to use or boycott if you so choose. If you do choose to boycott, it seems that you have a long road to hoe. Good luck with that.

  • Greg Collier 11:02 am on July 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Immigration, Mexicans, President, The Donald, Trump   

    Trump’s Political Push Exposes Bad-For-Business Behavior 

    As a business owner, I understand that my customers and business relationships are key to the long-term success of my company and I want to do everything I can to maintain and expand those relationships. At the same time, I also need to be able to maintain my voice and speak up about issues that matter to me, both professionally and personally. That’s one of the best things about having this blog.

    Still, there’s a fine line that must be walked when a business owner starts sounding off on the controversial topics of the day – and. boy, are there plenty to choose from these days. The country has been a hotbed of controversial issues this summer – same-sex marriage, Obamacare, the Confederate flag, religious liberty, immigration and, of course, Donald Trump.

    Everyday, I look for ways to grow my business, to extend my reach and let more people know about my service and what I can do for them. I’m not looking to debate a customer on the rights or wrongs of same-sex marriage and I’m certainly not looking for a heated debate over our powerless opinions about immigration, either.

    Frankly, that would be bad for business.

    When it comes to “bad for business,” Trump’s entry into the race for President is an interesting case study. For weeks, Trump has been going on and on about Mexicans and immigrants, making blanket statements – and offending – large groups of people, calling them “rapists” and “drug dealers.” It was only a matter of time before some of his business partners wanted to distance themselves from him and his statements.

    First it was Univision and NBC Universal, pulling out from beauty pageants and giving him the old “You’re Fired” from his Apprentice TV show.. Then came Macy’s and Serta, which both halted sales of products with the Trump name on it. A high-profile golf tournament was moved at the last minute from a Trump property. Top-name chefs have changed their minds about building their restaurants in Trump buildings.

    Trump, of course, has threatened to sue everyone who has turned against him. And, who knows? Maybe he’ll even win a couple of breach-of-contract lawsuits.

    But in no way does this make him a winner. He’s tarnished his brand. Who would want to do business with The Donald now? Are there other celebrity chefs looking to step in and fill the void from those who walked away? Is CBS or FOX (maybe) interested in putting him on the air in a different type of reality show? Is Nordstrom looking to make room for his ties in their stores?

    Sure, Trump may not care today about the business side of his life. After all, he’s rich – so rich that he’s funding his own campaign, a point that never gets lost during the countless interviews he’s done since announcing his candidacy. But, he’s also a long-shot for the presidency, what with his short-on-details, big-on-rhetoric presidential promises, such as building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border and making the Mexicans pay for it.

    At some point, Trump will likely find himself in the dark as the 24-hour news cycle starts focusing on the more serious candidates. It’s a long way to the election and while Trump’s 15 Minutes certainly still have some time left on the clock (at least until the first debates), it’s unlikely that he’ll make it all the way to Election Day.

    What will he do after he’s blown millions of dollars on a campaign that went nowhere? What will he do when he finally realizes the financial fallout from the lost relationships with Univision and NBC and Macy’s and the others? What will he do when the restaurants in his buildings are vacant and his golf courses are empty?

    What will he do when other companies pass on the opportunity to do business with him? File bankruptcy? Again?

    It’s one thing to make bad business decisions and learn from them. But doubling-down on bad behavior when solid business relationships start to unravel because of what you’re saying in the public forum probably isn’t the smartest move.

    I may not have agreed with – or had a lot of respect for – Donald Trump’s positions or the brash manner in which he chose to share them. But at least he always had my respect for being a smart businessman.

    Now, he doesn’t even have that.

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