Scams Targeting Immigrants are on the Rise

11 Dec 13


IMPACT – Medium

Telephone, email and web scams targeting immigrants have spiked in the past year.

Immigration authorities in Europe, Asia, Australia and the U.S. have warned foreigners about fraudulent calls.

Last week, several universities in the U.K. reported that some international students received suspicious calls from individuals posing as immigration officers from the U.K. Home Office. In France, police are investigating ongoing telephone fraud in which callers demand that foreign nationals pay immigration fees to complete their paperwork.

Such occurrences are becoming more commonplace worldwide, and even savvy travelers should be vigilant. In October, BAL reported telephone scams targeting foreigners in Ireland and New Zealand. In the United States, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) recently warned about a scam luring foreign investors to buy securities to qualify for an investor visa. Earlier in the year, BAL reported that individuals posing as USCIS officers targeted foreign employees in the U.S. The callers asked for passport and alien numbers, claimed that their documents contained errors and demanded money to fix them. Callers can seem legitimate because they often possess pieces of personal identifying information about their victims, such as home address, birth date and application numbers. Immigration agencies are warning travelers and foreign residents that this information is easy to find online.

In some cases, telephone scammers have “spoofed” their calls so the number that appears on the recipient’s caller ID or mobile phone appear to come from a government agency. Earlier this year, Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority alerted the public about suspicious calls appearing to originate from their hotline. In these calls, scammers asked for payment to fix supposed mistakes on travelers’ embarkation/debarkation cards. In another incident, Singapore’s labor ministry recently warned employers and workers not to use a fake copy-cat website.

Immigration officials have recently issued reminders, emphasizing that they do not call customers to collect payment for immigration fees over the phone and that people who receive calls like this should not give out personal details or pay any money.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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