Fraudsters are purporting to be from the Home Office and cold-calling victims to claim that there is a problem with their immigration status.
Fraudsters are calling victims from what appears to a genuine Home Office telephone number 0207 354 848 – which has in fact been ‘spoofed’. To spoof numbers, fraudsters use software that allows them to display any number they wish on a victim’s phone.
Fraudsters tell victims there is a problem with their immigration status and in order to rectify this issue, they must pay an up-front fee. They are asked to confirm personal details, such as their passport number and date of arrival in the United Kingdom. If a victim starts to question the call, the fraudsters point out the ‘spoofed’ number to make the request seem legitimate.
In 2017, 305 Action Fraud reports included the Home Office number 0207 035 4848.
Victims mainly Indian
Many victims who have been targeted by this fraud have had an association to India. The fraudsters often state that the victim has outstanding criminal charges against them in India, or that their official documentation was not completed satisfactorily upon their arrival into the United Kingdom.
Victims are left with three options – either face deportation; face arrest and imprisonment; or pay the up-front fee.
Victims are asked to pay the fees through a variety of methods, including; Bitcoin, money transfers via a Money Service Bureau or by purchasing iTunes vouchers before relaying the voucher code to the suspect.
Fraudsters usually attempt to keep the victim on the phone until the payment is received, which can be hours at a time.
How to protect yourself
- The Home Office, Police or any UK Law Enforcement Agency will never ask for money over the telephone.
- Government agencies do not use non-secure payment methods such as a transfer via a Money service Bureau, iTunes voucher(s) or cryptocurrency e.g. Bitcoin.
- When receiving unsolicited calls, be wary of providing personal information, or confirming that personal information the caller already claims to hold is correct. Always ensure you know who you talking to. Ask for the details of the organisation the caller represents and call them back yourself on the officially published numbers rather than the numbers the caller may try to provide you with.
- If you have any concerns regarding your immigration status, please visit the Gov.uk to speak with someone regarding your specific immigration issue.
If you think you have been a victim of fraud you should report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by using the online reporting tool.