Blog

Yonkers P.D. Arrests Scam Artist Who Targeted Immigrants

Posted on April 1, 2019 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Immigrants Turned First to Catholic Charities for Help

Accused of scamming more than 40 immigrant families with promises of citizenship, Juan Cedillo, 63, was arrested by Yonkers police thanks, in part, to intervention by Catholic Charities Community Services in Westchester.

The Yonkers Police Department announced last Friday, March 29, 2019, the felony arrest of Mr. Cedillo.  He is accused of contacting immigrants, then promising them an inside track to U-Visas and legal status.  The immigrants could have all this, he promised, in exchange for $5000 to join his “organization” and another $3000 to process their applications.

Yet not one of the dozens of Yonkers families that paid Mr. Cedillo received approval and a change of immigration status, Yonkers police spokesmen said.

Instead, according to a Yonkers P.D. press release, Mr. Cedillo simply submitted U-Visa applications – already available online - with false and incomplete information, then sent them to the Federal government for standard processing. To increase the odds that applications would be approved, Mr. Cedillo incorrectly stated that applicants were crime victims, a requirement to receive a U-Visa. However, he included none of the supporting documents needed to bolster this statement. 

Hustles, Cons & Crooked Deals

The arrest brings to light the hustles, cons and crooked deals executed against vulnerable immigrants seeking legal status and a new start in the U.S.

The sad reality is that immigrants are common targets for exploitation.  Dishonest landlords, employers, “notarios” and attorneys often prey on immigrants’ fears.  And their high-cost scams can cause problems for years to come.

Catholic Charities Steps In

Catholic Charities empowers these new New Yorkers in multiple ways, providing them with attorneys, training and support.  Thanks to this relationship Catholic Charities staff got wind of Mr. Cedillo’s scheme. Both a woman the agency helps through its Women in Action employment empowerment program and a man helped by the agency’s day laborer program, fearful of the police and federal threats of deportation, turned instead to Catholic Charities staff to report what they described as “odd meetings” Mr. Cedillo invited them to attend.

Targeting the Most Vulnerable

“According to our community members, they were specifically targeted,” said Catholic Charities Yonkers Agency Director Esmeralda Hoscoy. 

‘He told them that, ‘unlike 'attorneys' who do not listen to them, he could assist with getting them drivers licenses and help them attain citizenship status,’” Ms. Hoscoy continued. “He had business cards that looked very legitimate that read that he worked for Counter Intelligence.”

Currently in-custody at the Westchester County Jail, Mr. Cedillo was arrested on February 25th, 2019, the Yonkers P.D. reports.  He was charged with one count of Grand Larceny 3. Charges may be added and or upgraded as the investigation continues.

“This individual preyed on our residents, selling them hope and promise for a better life,” Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said at Friday’s press conference. “Instead he delivered deceit and disappointment.”

Catholic Charities’ qualified staff works to prevent exploitation.  We provide honest information in multiple languages and solid legal advice.  We also operate the New York State New Americans Hotline.

Call us at 212-419-3737 or toll-free in New York State at 1-800-566-7636 to 

  • Obtain accurate information
  • Avoid exploitation
  • Report fraud

Find a Catholic Charities agency that provides quality help.