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Saturday, May 22, 2004

Immigrant Workers Targeted By New Scam

Immigrant Workers Targeted By New Scam

In a KXAN exclusive, News 36 looks at the investigation underway into a string of criminals who've come up with a surprising new way to rob you.

Arrest warrants show some Austin thieves are using prostitutes to lure victims in so they can attack and rob them.

There is a specific community here in Austin that's often the target of these robberies -- undocumented immigrants because they are less likely to tell police about it.

"Right now this is only a few cases," Director of Office of Immigrant Concerns Leo Anchondo said.

There are thousands of cases of immigrants who've been robbed in Austin.

"I would say one of every three clients that we see has been victimized in any way," Anchondo said.

Anchondo has never seen a case like this. According to arrest warrants, two immigrants claim they were robbed at gun point by two prostitutes and two men.

They say "the females had entered their apartment through their unlocked front door, uninvited and offered them sex." The men refused and told police within seconds two black men barged into the apartment with guns and robbed them of nearly $1,000.

"I was a little surprised by the level of creativity to attack this community," Anchondo said.

Anchondo says the immigrant community is often attacked, even street ice cream vendors.

"They just take their money and run," Anchondo said.

Nineteen-year-old Francisco Javier of Mexico says he knows of at least five different vendors who've been robbed.

"I think that it's bad that they're doing that. They should go and work instead of robbing," Javier said.

In this latest robbery, police have arrested and connected one of the prostitutes to other criminals who "are suspects in several other immigrant robberies. One is in jail for attempted capital murder for a separate case in which he robbed and shot a person after using a prostitute to lure that victim in."

"I think that now that we are aware of this new trend in crime we would make an effort to get it out to the community that we serve," Anchondo said.

Austin Police did not want to comment about the investigation and could not give us any mugshots of the suspects because they continue to look into the possibility of more victims of this latest scam.

Meanwhile the Office of Immigrant Concerns says you should be concern because crimes like this affect everyone.

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