Non-U.S. citizens face an uncertain future in this country right now. Even permanent residents may find themselves questioning their immigration status. All of this uncertainty leaves individuals susceptible to scam artists who take advantage of their trepidation.
If you are one of these people, then you need to be aware of the latest scams. If you are not, you could end up a victim. Unless you are well aware of how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services operates, or even if you are, obtaining reliable information could save you a great deal of trouble.
Like most schemes, greed is the motivating factor in this one. Con artists hope to take your money, and they do it through fear. Scammers will contact you either over the phone or online. They pose as agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and can be quite convincing. They use the latest is computer technology to make you think any online communication actually comes from ICE.
Schemers won't target you individually. Instead, any phone calls occur through "robo-calling," in which the system contacts a list of random phone numbers and leaves a message. Then, scammers wait for you to reply. Online communications appear legitimate because those involved use documents and the official website of ICE. When you contact the spoofed phone number, fraudsters will attempt to get you to pay them thousands of dollars to go away.
The scheme exposed
Kitboga, a popular Twitch streamer, posed as an 87-year-old woman to expose the scheme. The fraudster told Kitboga that a problem existed with "her" alien registration number. After pretending to cry, the fraudster began making non-specific threats and accused the "woman" of involvement in terrorism and money laundering. The caller then asked for the following information to verify identity:
- Bank information
- Credit card information
- Assets in the U.S.
- Home address
The scheme even went on to use a fake police officer supposedly calling from a patrol car indicating that he had an arrest warrant that would be executed if Kitboga failed to do what the "immigration officer" demanded, which was to pay $2,999 to make the investigation go away. In this case, the fake immigration officer then attempted to remotely access the computer the supposed woman was using, along with the fake bank account Kitboga gave.
It is typical for fraudsters will threaten deportation and demand money. You should know that USCIS will never ask you to pay money over the phone. Essentially, as soon as the caller demands personal information, you should suspect a scheme.