Physician from India got call from gang within days of his arrival here.
By Sujeet Rajan
NEW YORK: The brazen gang of criminals who have been targeting Indians on H1B visas – pretending to be immigration and law enforcement officials through phone calls, and extorting money after threatening victims with immediate deportation – seem to be spreading their dragnet to include Indians who are here on tourist visas.
The American Bazaar has uncovered more than a dozen cases of victims being approached by the gang. Some of the victims paid up money. Some victims have had the temerity to question their credibility. That saved them from being exploited.
Yet another case has now surfaced, with the difference that this time around the victim approached is here on a tourist visa, and got a phone call only four days after he got a temporary cell phone after his arrival in the US.
A physician, whose name is being withheld to protect his identity, explained by e-mail to The American Bazaar that he got a call – which showed up on his cell phone as Unknown – from a man who claimed to be from Homeland Security, and demanded the victim to give his citizenship number.
“I told them that I do not have one because I’m a tourist here. They insisted that I produce one soon. By God’s grace, I suspected the caller and asked them for the reason and they did not give any,” wrote the victim to the Bazaar. “The reason behind suspecting is that I have not furnished my mobile number in any of the immigration filings as I got this number only after four days of landing in the country. When I emphasized that I do not have any citizenship number from the US immigration and again asked for their identity, they disconnected the call.”
The victim added: “Thankfully, no loss or threat.”
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The fact that the victim has been in the US for only a very brief period of time, and that too on a tourist visa, seems to suggest that the gang is getting immigration information on new arrivals too. All the other victims that the Bazaar has uncovered so far have been in the US for at least a year, and more, and all are on H1B visas.
Also, some of the victims who ended up paying money to the gang, have got repeat calls asking for more money. This is despite the fact that these victims have even lodged formal reports to the local and federal law enforcement agencies.
One of the victims in California got a call a few days after he paid money to the gang. This time he abused the caller. The call was disconnected. He found out later that five other colleagues and friends of his – all from India on H1B visas – too got calls from the gang. But they had heard of the victim’s experience and did not fall into the same trap.
Another victim in Virginia got a repeat call from the gang a few days after he paid up money.
Some of the victims have told the Bazaar that the police and the FBI, with whom they had lodged complaints with on their loss, have not given them any feedback on the case, as yet.
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