Fraudsters Claiming to be from Home Office Target Immigrants in UK
Action Fraud has warned people against fraudsters trying to dupe immigrants after claiming to be UK Home Office personnel.
Action Fraud, the fraud and cyber-crime reporting center in United Kingdom, has issued an alert against scamsters who claim to be from the Home Office and call victims saying there is a problem with their immigration status. The main aim of these hoax calls is to swindle money from the victims, Action Fraud said in a statement on Feb. 12.
Several victims who have become the target of these fraudsters are of Indian origin, the statement added. The victims are told by the perpetrators that they have outstanding criminal charges against them in India, or that when they arrived in the United Kingdom, their official documentation was not completed. These victims are then given three options — they can either be deported, be arrested and imprisoned, or can cough up the up-front fee.
Fraudsters call victims from what appears to a genuine Home Office telephone number — 0207 354 848 — but it is a hoax as the number has been “spoofed.” They are using a software that allows them to display any number they wish on a victim’s phone to spoof numbers.
“Fraudsters tell victims there is a problem with their immigration status and in order to rectify this issue, they must pay an up-front fee. They are asked to confirm personal details, such as their passport number and date of arrival in the United Kingdom,” the statement said, adding that if a victim has some doubts and questions the call, the fraudsters mention the “spoofed” number with the intention of making the call appear genuine.
The victims are told that they can pick from many options to pay the fees, including Bitcoin, money transfers via a Money Service Bureau or by purchasing iTunes vouchers. The voucher code is communicated to the suspect.
“Fraudsters usually attempt to keep the victim on the phone until the payment is received, which can be hours at a time. If you think you have been a victim of fraud you should report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by using the online reporting tool,” the statement said.
Action Fraud also listed steps to help people ensure that they do not fall in this trap. It pointed out that the Home Office, police or any UK law enforcement agency will never ask for money over the phone. It also said that the government agencies do not use non-secure payment methods such as a transfer via a Money service Bureau, iTunes vouchers or cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.
“When receiving unsolicited calls, be wary of providing personal information, or confirming that personal information the caller already claims to hold is correct. Always ensure you know who you talking to. Ask for the details of the organization the caller represents and call them back yourself on the officially published numbers rather than the numbers the caller may try to provide you with,” instructed Action Fraud.
It urged people in United Kingdom to either visit government websites like Gov.uk or speak with someone to clarify any doubts they have regarding their immigration status.
About 305,000 people born in India were projected to have migrated to the United Kingdom in the period between July 2016 and June 2017, according to UK’s Office for National Statistics released in November last year. This made India the most common migrant nationality in the country after countries of the European Union like Poland, Romania and the Republic of Ireland.