DHS warns immigrants, minority groups to be wary of scam calls

Most common ruses include violations of immigration or customs laws, unspecified green cards matter

Department of Homeland Security has issued a fraud alert about how scammers impersonating DHS personnel defraud the public targeting immigrants, minority groups or people with foreign ties in particular.

Noting that each year, DHS receives hundreds of reports of individuals impersonating DHS employees to defraud the public, the alert issued by the DHS Inspector General also offers tips on how to avoid becoming another victim.

Read: US indicts six India-based call centers for phone scams (February 7, 2022)

Impersonators can spoof actual DHS phone numbers and create email addresses that resemble DHS email addresses in their attempts appear legitimate, it said in an Aug 29 release. Some will even email or text pictures of real and doctored law enforcement credentials.

These impersonators will try to convince targets to provide personally identifiable information, passwords, credit card or bank numbers, or payment via money transfer services or prepaid debit cards, DHS said.

Many reports to DHS are related to the targeting of immigrants, minority groups or people with foreign ties.

The most common ruses are: Violations of immigration or customs laws, lost or duplicate passports used abroad to commit crimes, unspecified green cards matters, packages detained at the border containing drugs or other illegal materials, and problems with the victim’s immigration forms.

Imposters may threaten with arrest, cancellation of visas, or deportation if they do not comply, DHS said.

Read: Indian American man pleads guilty to scam to defraud elderly (January 12, 2021)

Offering tips on how to protect yourself, DHS asked the public to be suspicious of telephone calls or emails claiming to be from DHS as scammers can fake caller ID information and email addresses.

All legitimate government emails will come from an email address ending in .gov. Scammers often use incorrect nomenclature to identify themselves, such as “DHS agent,” “DHS private investigator” or “Detective with DHS.”

They may misuse Office of Inspector General Department of Homeland Security acronyms or government agencies’ names such as “Department of Customs and Border Security,” or “US Immigration Agency.”

DHS never use the contact numbers listed on its website to make outgoing calls of this nature. Individuals receiving phone calls from these numbers should not provide any personal information, the alert said.

Read: DHS OIG Warns Public of Fraudsters (August 30, 2022)

Do not send money or gift cards to persons claiming to be from DHS, it said noting DHS employees will never ask you to pay a fine over the phone, and will never accept payment for fees through Google Play, Apple, gift cards, or money transfer services such as Zelle or Venmo.

Anyone who believes they may have been a victim may call the DHS OIG Hotline (1-800-323-8603) or file a complaint online via the DHS OIG website www.oig.dhs.gov. Internet crime victims can file a complaint at www.ic3.gov and with the Federal Trade Commission, the release said.

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