Practitioners Warn About Immigration Scams
Immigration practitioners are warning each other, companies, and employees to avoid immigration-related scams. Types of scams reported recently include:
- Scammers targeting people based on foreign-sounding names or based on information gathered about companies hiring many H-1Bs. The scammers can get a lot of information from various websites, labor condition application listings from the Department of Labor, LinkedIn, social media, and other sources. Scammers are able to collect information in a variety of ways and use it to convince unwitting victims of their purported authenticity.
- Scammers claiming to be from the Department of Homeland Security or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. They call and state that the victim’s paperwork has problems and threaten to deport the victim or to send authorities to the person’s home if he or she does not cooperate. They then order the person to go to the nearest convenience store, obtain merchant cards or vouchers for a certain amount of money, and provide the voucher numbers over the phone. Once the scammers obtain the voucher numbers, they disconnect the call and disappear with the victim’s money.
- Scammers claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service, who state that the victim owes back taxes and ordering them to provide merchant card or voucher numbers, then disappearing with the victim’s money.
- Scammers who use “Caller ID spoofing” to display a telephone number that is not really their own, and that may appear to be from a legitimate government agency.
- Scammers who send e-mails claiming that the recipient is a Diversity Visa lottery winner and must send in a fee. The Department of State does not send e-mails to applicants.
- Scammers who claim faster processing times or guarantee visas, work authorizations, or green cards, for a fee.
The Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers notes that government agencies never conduct business in this manner. A call demanding money and threatening negative consequences if it’s not coughed up immediately is a scam, and those receiving such calls should hang up immediately and not provide any information. USCIS notes, “USCIS will not call you to ask for any form of payment over the phone. Don’t give payment over the phone to anyone who claims to be a USCIS official.”
Scams can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission. See also USCIS’s scam information page at http://www.uscis.gov/avoidscams to learn where to report scams. USCIS lists common immigration-related scams. Contact your Ivener & Fullmer LLP for more information or help in particular cases.