NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Jobseekers who need every penny they have are losing serious cash to crooked employment agencies.

CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported exclusively Thursday on what is being done to stop the businesses before they bilk anyone else.

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Employment agencies focused on low-wage workers are popular in immigrant neighborhoods in every borough. But jobseekers such as Marlon Moncrieffe are losing big bucks – more than $800 in his case.

“They were just really nice, warm, and welcoming,” Moncrieffe said.

But he said it was all a façade.

The agency promised to enroll him in an Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety class in order to land a construction laborer job.

“An OSHA class and construction work – I didn’t get either,” he said.

One woman who is an immigrant from Colombia paid $350 upfront for a full-time job at a hair salon, only to see her hours chopped after two weeks.

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“So they promised her a full-time job, and it wasn’t a full-time job,” said the woman’s translator, Maritza.

New Immigrant Community Empowerment, a Queens-based advocacy group, has been collecting complaints about some of the more than 400 employment agencies targeting low-wage workers.

Many of the agencies are licensed and legitimate, but some are not – and the state has been sniffing out those trying to take advantage of people looking for work.

“They’re sending them to vacant lots,” said Jennie Encalada of New Immigrant Community Empowerment. “They’re sending them to employers paying below the minimum wage.”

State Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Queens) is proposing a series of reforms, including raising penalties for agency misconduct, and requiring agencies to provide detailed contracts to potential workers.

“What the requirements are of the job, the number of hours, and the salary that they would get” are among the items Moya said he wants to see on the contracts.

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Moya said state law regarding employment agencies has not been updated since the 1970s, and it is time to do more to protect those seeking low-wage work.