- Immigration Fraud Schemes Continue to Target Foreign Nationals
- October 9, 2013
- Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
Foreign nationals must continue to be on guard against a widespread fraud scheme currently being perpetrated in the United States.
In the scam, individuals posing as immigration officers call or text foreign nationals claiming that there is a discrepancy or problem in immigration records. Victims are pressured to pay a “penalty” to have the issue rectified. Victims are told to wire funds to an address the caller provides. The perpetrator may possess personal information about the victim, such as name and address, and may ask the victim to provide or “confirm” immigration information such as an I-94 number, an alien registration number or a passport number.
Sophisticated “spoofing” technology may be used to show misleading information in the recipient’s caller ID, which may display the caller as “U.S. Immigration,” “911” or “USCIS.”
What to Do If You Are Targeted in a Scam
Take precautions if you receive a suspicious call from someone claiming that there is a problem with your immigration records.
- Do not forward any funds. USCIS will never require payment over the telephone. If the caller demands money, then the call is not legitimate.
- Do not disclose personal information if you have not verified the caller’s identity. Sensitive personal details, such as Social Security Number, date of birth, I-94 number, alien registration number or passport number, should not be shared over the telephone unless you are certain of the requestor’s identity and need to know the information. To prevent being caught up in a scam, you can ask for the caller’s name and call-back number; a perpetrator will typically hang up.
- Inform your company human resources or immigration representative about any contact from USCIS or from someone posing to be from USCIS. There are a handful of circumstances when USCIS contacts foreign nationals. If you have called the National Customer Service Center recently, you may receive a return call from an immigration officer. You and your employer may receive a phone call, email or in-person visit from an officer of the USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) unit, which routinely investigates employment-based immigration petitions.
- Report the fraud scheme. This may be done by email to [email protected], online with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection, or to law enforcement in your state. Complaints to the FTC may be made by victims, by their advocates, and by anonymous submission.
- If you transferred funds or provided personal information, after filing a complaint with the FTC, monitor your credit report and card accounts.
Immigration fraud comes in many forms. This telephone scheme is only one example. USCIS provides additional information and resources for victims. And with the registration period for the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery program opened on October 1, 2013, the potential for these deceptions increases.
Government Initiatives to Combat Immigration Fraud
USCIS, the Federal Trade Commission and its sister agencies are taking action to educate the public about immigration fraud, encourage reporting and assist in the prosecution of offenders.
The Federal Trade Commission maintains the complaints on its Consumer Sentinel Network. Over 2000 partners, including USCIS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the Department of Justice, state Attorney General offices and sheriff’s departments, and local law enforcement, can access and contribute to this database.