H-1B visa holder? A call from 911? Beware!

A unique phone scam that preys on fear.

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By Sujeet Rajan

"Sujeet"NEW YORK: On Monday, at 4: 12 p.m., X (name withheld on request), who works for a technology company in Northern Virginia, got a call on his cellphone. It showed 911.

When X answered, fear gripping him, the caller identified himself as a police officer. Police were trying to contact him for the last two weeks, there is bad news, the caller said: X had to leave the country, with his family, immediately, within the next 24 hours. Because of an immigration violation, they would not be allowed to enter the US again for the next 20 years. A team of immigration and police officials would be reaching his house within the hour to escort them to the airport, deport them.


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For X, this was one of his worst fears come true. He had come from India to work in the US on an H-1B visa a year ago, was just finding his feet in the new land with his stay-at-home wife and two- year-old child. The caller, X said in an exclusive interview to this reporter, recounting the incident, seemed to be of Indian or South Asian origin going by a slight accent, had flawless English.

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The caller said: get out of the office immediately, rush home. Don’t inform your colleagues. Leave now. You don’t have much time. Don’t cut this call.

In total panic, X rushed out of the office without saying a word to anybody. His apartment was a 10-minute drive away.

READ: India, time to lobby hard for NRIs, tweak laws in Parliament

Put the phone on speaker, don’t take any other call, the caller said. The police and immigration team will be there at his house any minute. X complied.

When he reached home, the caller told X to log onto his computer, go to the USCIS immigration website. As his puzzled and alarmed wife looked on, X, who was almost paralyzed with fear, ignored her repeated queries of what was going on, logged on to the site, his cellphone held to his ear.

Check your alien registration number, the caller told X. When he mumbled he didn’t know what that is, the caller told him to search for it on the site. When X told him he found what it means, the caller asked him: do you have an alien registration number? No? Well, that is the problem. You Make sure that you’re capable of best-driving-school.com safely and confidently, without prompting from an instructor, with this unique package of official products from the Driving Standards Agency – the people who set the best-driving-school.com tests. didn’t give this information when you entered the country. Why did you come here? What are your intentions? This is why we want you deported. You need to go to your High Commission in New Delhi, pay a fine of $2,200. After that you will be issued a new 1-94 card. Then only can you enter back into the country. If you don’t pay the fine, you can’t get back into the US for the next 20 years. Do you want to go back to India?

READ: Indian workers on H-1B visas increased in 2012

X replied: Yes, I can go. The caller asked: do you have the $2,200 fine to pay? X said yes, and asked: is there any solution to this problem without leaving the country?

The caller said: If you are willing to pay the $2,200 right away, today, we can process your case, and halt deportation.

When X said he could do that, asked how he should pay, by check or credit card, the caller told him to get money from his bank, and get GreenDot cards (pre-paid debit cards) from a 7-Eleven store; four $500 cards, one $200 card.

“I didn’t know what GreenDot was, never heard about it” X said in the interview. “If he had said Western Union, I might still have been warned of something fishy going on. But Green Dot. I thought, maybe it is something the immigration use to process cases fast.”

X rushed out of the house, to his bank, without saying anything to his wife, who was in tears by now, at the dazed state her husband was in. As soon as he left, she called a colleague of X, told him that she feared something bad was going on.

When X reached a local 7-Eleven, he was told that the maximum cards he could get at a time was worth $2,000, and he would have to come back for the rest. He came out of the store, told the caller the problem. It’s ok. Get the $2,000, you can pay the $200 later, he was told. When X made the purchase, the caller took down the numbers of all the four scratch cards, worth $500 each.

The time now was 5:30 p.m. X’s cellphone was running low on battery. He informed the caller. The caller told him to give his landline number and to rush back home and log onto the computer to complete the immigration process to halt his deportation order.

As he drove, the caller asked X if all his passport information was the same. When X said yes, the caller told him the correct residential address in India, and asked him if that was still the same on his passport. X said yes.

“That made even more sense to me at that time, they knew everything about me, that this was immigration at work,” X said in the interview.

When X reached home, the caller cut the call on the cell, called him on the land line. Later on, from the Vonage phone logs, X found out the number showed up as 011-Anonymous.

At home also was X’s colleague, whom his wife had called earlier. A native of India too, the colleague had recently become an American citizen.

X didn’t heed to his colleague’s and wife’s repeated queries, but immediately logged onto his computer, trying to beat the near deadline for his deportation order as the caller had warned him. He was told to fill out a 1-94 form. The caller said he would help him do it, and once finished, had to email that form to him.

When he heard the conversation on the phone, which was on speaker, the colleague became suspicious. He asked X to ask the caller for his police badge and ID number. The caller asked X why he wanted that, unaware of the colleague present in the room. The colleague told X to cut the phone call. The phone rang again. The caller asked X sternly why he had cut the call. X again cut the call. This time, the phone went silent. It was 6:30 p.m.

X’s 2 hours and 18 minutes of ordeal of terror had come to an end.

“I completely believed this guy,” said X. “It was because of the 911 number. I completely believed it. I really believed I was talking to a police officer.”

On Tuesday, X informed his office, who had sponsored his H-1B visa. They sympathized with him, told him to lodge a police complaint. He lodged an online report. An officer got in touch with him Wednesday, told him that the case was being transferred to the local police station, an officer would get in touch with him Thursday, a case number would be given.

X says he doesn’t mind recounting what happened to the police all over again.

“I don’t want anybody else to be scammed the way I have been. It was terrifying for my family too,” he said.

(Sujeet Rajan is the Editor-in-Chief of The American Bazaar). 

To contact the author, email to sujeetrajan@americanbazaaronline.com

16 Comments

  1. Yes they are still active i got a call form +1911 now after posted add in a local portal in US a day ago. He told he is a police officer and he wants to arrest me as i have paid taxes incorrectly & there was due because of which a case was filled against me. Please be careful, they would be asking to pay the amount in the form of Google gift cards or any other gift cards

  2. Shashank India

    May be from now on you people will get calls from Real ICE people.Trump times.

  3. Nagai Rajan

    I also got a call. Very clearly Indian accent and thanks to this and other advice I knew this is fake. I yelled at him in abusive Hindi words. He replied in English. I continued and on until he gave up and started yelling back in Hindi. I laughed loud and kept the phone down and blocked the caller.

  4. Yes they are still active i got a call now after posted add in sulekha. He told he is a police office and he wants to arrest me. But once i told him that im in india he just hang up the call.

  5. I posted ad on Sulekha today morning and I got the same call. They claimed – “I’m calling from 911 police. Give me your location” and this guy has an Indian accent. So I told him “when did 911 outsource to India and why is that you have an American name and Indian accent”. Then he said, “police would you be arriving shortly”. Then I said, “Awesome man. I’m bored to death this morning and you are funny”. He immediately cut the call

  6. In Kolkata there is a call center who do this type of things it’s location in polleshree Even I work over there but when I get to know this thing I thought I will leave and they don’t even gave me d salary of last month

  7. I got a call just few minutes back from +1(911) and told me that Police office is coming to arrest me. I was wondered and asked him “Why”? He said, I violated Tax rules and asked me to verify my information. I didn’t told any information about me and just asked him “I won’t verify the details unless over the phone”. Then he said that police officer will come and arrest me.. He ended the call. I had a little laugh and resumed my work. I know this is a fake call. DONT VERIFY YOUR INFORMATION & DON’T PAY ANYTHING OVER THE LINES. Be aware & Be Bold..

  8. I got the call from “+1911”, which is not the same as “+1 911”. The former number is an internet based calling card number, different from “911”. The person identified himself as Sergeant Vincent, informed me this is a very secured line he is calling me from and asked me if I received any letter from USCIS in past week. The person had an Americanized Accent.

    He said, “You are in big trouble which can lead to your deportation and therefore you must follow and do as I say”. The first question he asked me was “Where exactly are you right now, Home or Office?” and instead of answering this question, I asked him, “again, what is the purpose of this call?”. He repeated himself “in order to resolve your deportation, you must tell me are you home or at work at this moment”. This sounded like a total scam and so I firmly told him, “I have no immigration issues, and you have incorrect information”. This time he explained me, “This is in regards to your I-94″. My reply annoyed him,”I don’t remember filing for 1 in years, and am no longer an immigrant either. Sir, you have incorrect information.” He replied me with an angry raised voice, “If you do not cooperate, a team of Sergeants will show up at our residence in 15 mins. You need to understand the sincerity of the situation.” I nicely asked him to provide me a call back number – “Let me check with USCIS and call you back. What is the phone number I can reach you at?” … and he hung up on me.

  9. I got a call this morning. Don’t panic. They called me and asked for my name first and he told me you are having big trouble. I told him that you did not even know my name and how can you tell that I am in trouble. He told me that he is a police offer from 911. Then when I asked his name and told him that let me call 911 and connect you, he disconnected his call.

  10. I’m staying in Henrico,VA.I missed a call from +1911 this morning. When I called back, the number didn’t respond.surprised to see this article.

  11. I got a call today around 11 AM and was told that the sergents will be at my house soon and i needed to verify the house address. I reason being i had not updated my I94 details with USCIS. Also, he asked me again and again whether i got any letter from uscis through usps. Oh god, these people think that we are fools. Just curious how he knew my name. Off late , i have been applying for jobs. I’m sure that i’m applying at reliable sources where my data will not be spammed. Initially when i took the call, the guy tried to talk with a heavy voice. I knew then that it wasn’t a job related call. Seriously, i was smiling all the time and the caller was getting offended and kept telling me that i’m trying to make fun of a federal officer. At one point, i wanted to use the worst words but kept calm since it would degrade me from my level! Ass***** need to be found and hung to death!

  12. Richa Midha Nagpal

    i got a call from the number that presented the oakland county police. And the person asked me to call to a number and told that there is a complaint against me From the IRS department.

    And the person pretending to be officer at the IRS asked me to deposit 3250 through walmart. And proceeded in exactly the same way as you can not drop the call since i didn’t had the money so i asked him to permit me to involve my husband . I called him to come to hoe but then caller disconnected the phone for 10 minutes and my husband took me to the police station and the cop over there informed that no one in united states can ask you for the money over the phone. Just disconnect the phone , since these people are not from united states so unfortunately we cannot lodge a complaint.

    The numbers were 248 -437-5600 () that is actually the oakland police county number)
    and the another one where i called was: 347-418-0425.
    After ten minutes the guy pretending to be an IRS officer called again and my husband scolded him and asked him to not to call again.

  13. Dialdiswus

    My sister just received the same call this morning! Beware they are still active. This chat really helped!

  14. I got a call today from+1 911. That caller said someone filed a case on me in my country’s high court and asked if I was at home or outside. I said I am at home. The caller asked me to switch on the laptop and charge my phone and close the door because of roommates. I said I stay alone ( I lied). Then he said he dint hear the sound of the door closing I said I did close the door and I started laughing since I knew it was a scam. He said I was being rude and the cops would come and arrest me right away. I said fine I will go to the local police office. He said don’t disconnect the call, tell me when you reach the police station. He was then acting as if he was complaining to someone about me that I was being rude and all. I cut the call. I was already informed about 911 scams during my university orientation.

  15. This just happened with me.Luckily I had my work phone and goggled about this and found this article.I told this person that I will have to involve my local police dept on this call and then the person drops the call .No call from “unknown” or “911” so farm.

  16. These guys operate out of Hyderabad, India. The source used is Naukri.com and they use VOIP phones to spoof numbers. Unfortunately our government is not doing anything about it and these criminals are openly running criminal call centers throughout Hyderabad, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Gurgaon.

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