In recent weeks there has been an increase in telephone scams that are designed to fraudulently elicit money and personal information from foreign nationals.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has warned of a telephone scam whereby scammers use a technique called “Caller ID spoofing” to display false information on the recipient’s Caller ID, leading the individual to believe that the caller is a government agency official or police officer. In a common scenario, the caller poses as a USCIS officer and has certain correct information about the individual, such as name and address. The caller then claims that USCIS has discovered discrepancies in the individual’s immigration records and requests confirmation of personal immigration data, such as an I-94 number, an “A” number, or a visa control number. Foreign nationals are cautioned against sharing this information with anyone, as it can be used to obtain additional data from USCIS or to generate falsified immigration records in the foreign national’s name. The caller often asks to meet with the foreign national in person (either at work or home), requesting that the victim stay on the line while proceeding to the meeting place. At some point during the call, the caller suggests that payment of funds or a fine/penalty could resolve the concerns, and seeks to arrange for a wire transfer to correct these records.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has cautioned consumers about a “sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country.” In a similar scenario to the one above, victims are informed that they owe the IRS money that must promptly be paid through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. Victims who refuse to cooperate are threatened with arrest, deportation, or suspension of a business or driver’s license. These calls are sometimes paired with follow-up calls from individuals asserting that they are from the local police department or the state motor vehicle department—and the caller ID supports their claim. The callers who commit this fraud may also send bogus IRS emails to back up their scam.
Please be on alert that foreign national employees may be receiving such telephone calls. Foreign nationals who receive telephone calls regarding their immigration status or unpaid taxes from individuals claiming to be USCIS/IRS/local police officers should be wary and should not provide any personal details over the telephone or make any payments to such callers. Instead, they should ask for the caller’s name, department, and a telephone number at which the caller can be contacted and alert relevant company personnel.
If one of your foreign national employees has received a suspicious call, contact the Ogletree Deakins attorney with whom you normally work so that we may monitor this issue and alert law enforcement as appropriate. You may also report such calls to law enforcement authorities, such as the FBI, and to the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. Additional information on common USCIS scams is available at: www.uscis.gov/avoid-scams/common-scams.
Note: This article was published in the April/May issue of the Immigration eAuthority.