Posing as immigration officials, scammers target victims for money and personal info

PHOTO: A person uses a smartphone in an undated stock photo.PlaySTOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
WATCH How to protect your family from virtual kidnapping scams

Scammers posing as immigration officials have attempted to extort victims for personal information and money, according to a new warning from the Homeland Security inspector general's office.

The perpetrators change the caller ID that appears on a victim’s phone, making it seem as though they are receiving a call from a Department of Homeland Security office.

“[The inspector general] takes this matter very seriously,” the office said in a statement. “Individuals receiving phone calls from these numbers should not provide any personal information.”

While these appear to be legitimate numbers from actual offices, the inspector general notes that DHS would never ask for personal information in this way.

PHOTO: A telephone is seen in this undated stock photo. STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
A telephone is seen in this undated stock photo.

Pretending to be law enforcement or immigration officials, the scammers tell victims they will be arrested unless they send the scammers money. In some cases the fraudsters use an email address ending in “uscis.org.” USCIS is the abbreviated name for U.S. Customs and Immigration Services.

Once they make contact with a target, scammers use different tactics to obtain personal identifying information. In some cases, they falsely claim the person has already been a victim of identity theft.

The inspector general reminds the public that it’s still safe to call DHS headquarters. Anyone who thinks they may have been targeted by the scam can call the inspector general hotline or file a complaint on the department’s website.

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