Immigration scam targets migrants

22 April 2015

Scamwatch is warning consumers to be aware of calls from scammers claiming to be from the 'Department of Immigration' threatening you with deportation and demanding money.

The ACCC and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) have been getting reports of scammers claiming to be government officials. The scammers call migrants and temporary visa holders and threaten them with deportation supposedly because of problems with their immigration paperwork or visa status.

Scammers are demanding up-front fees of around $1,000 to resubmit forms. These scam phone calls appear to be targeting people from India and Pakistan. The ACCC has received 150 reports of this scam since February with more than $35,000 reported lost.

Scammers may try to pressure you by calling repeatedly and harassing you, even threatening to send the police to your house – but if you give your money to a scammer you will never see it again. The DIBP has confirmed that it does not ask for any payment of fines or penalties by telephone.

Be on guard, if you receive a phone call from someone threatening you with deportation and asking you to pay a fee, hang up and do not respond. If in doubt, don’t use any contact details provided by the caller - look up the government department or organisation yourself in the phone book or online and phone or email them.

How these scams work

  • you receive a call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from the 'Department of Immigration'
  • you may be left a message on your answering machine asking you to ring a number
  • the caller will claim that you have issues with your immigration forms or visa status
  • the caller will tell you that in order to resolve the matter you will need to pay a fee or fine
  • the caller may try to get information from you like your passport details, date of birth or bank information
  • the caller may claim the police will come to your door and arrest you if you do not pay the fee or fine immediately
  • the caller may even offer to send a taxi to your house to take you to the nearest post office to make a payment via wire transfer or other electronic payment method
  • if you send any money via wire transfer, you will never see it again – it’s nearly impossible to recover money sent this way
  • if you provide any personal information, the scammer may use it to commit identity theft.

Protect yourself

  • if you receive a phone call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from the DIBP telling you that you will be deported unless you pay a fine, hang up
  • if you have any doubts about the identity of any caller who claims to represent a government department, contact the department directly. Don’t rely on numbers, email addresses or websites provided by the caller – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search
  • never send any money via wire transfer to anyone you do not know or trust
  • never give your personal information or bank account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source. If you think you have provided your details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

Report

You can report immigration fraud matters to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection through their Immigration Dob-In Service.

You can report scams to the ACCC via the Scamwatch report a scam page.

More information

Stay one step ahead of scammers, follow @Scamwatch_gov on Twitter.

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