Fraudsters are purporting to be from the Home Office and cold-calling victims to claim that there is a problem with their immigration status. Victims are informed that in order to rectify this issue, they must pay an up-front fee and are often asked to confirm personal details such as their passport number and date of arrival in the United Kingdom.
In a number of instances when the victim receives this phone call from the suspect, a genuine Home Office telephone number will be displayed as the Caller ID on their phone. The suspect will point this out to the victim in order to add legitimacy to the request. The fraudster has used a method called ‘spoofing’ to display a Home Office telephone number – 02070354848. This does not mean that the call has actually originated from the Home Office.
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 money transfers via Money Service Bureau and by purchasing iTunes vouchers before relaying the voucher code to the suspect. The fraudster usually attempts to keep the victim on the phone until the payment is received, which can be hours at a time.
– 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 payments methods such as bank transfer via a Money Service Bureau, iTunes vouchers or cryptocurrency e.g Bitcoin
– When receiving unsolicited calls, be ware of providing personal information, or confirming that personal information the caller already claims to hold is correct. Always ensure you know who you are 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 following government website to speak with someone regarding your specific immigration issue : https://www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-inside-outside-uk
– If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk, or by calling 0300 123 2040
Fraudsters are attempting to entice victims who are looking for cheap flights abroad.
Victims have reported booking tickets via websites or a “popular” ticket broker, only to discover that after payment via bank transfer or electronic wire transfer, the tickets/booking references received are counterfeit. In some cases, all communications between the company or broker and the victim have been severed.
Fraudsters are targeting individuals who are seeking to travel to African nations and the Middle East, particularly those wishing to travel in time for popular public and religious holidays.
- Pay safe: Be cautious if you’re asked to pay directly into a private individual’s bank account. Paying by direct bank transfer is like paying by cash – the money is very difficult to trace and is not refundable. Wherever possible, pay by credit card or a debit card.
- Conduct research on any company you’re considering purchasing tickets from; for example, are there any negative reviews or forum posts by previous customers online? Don’t just rely on one review – do a thorough online search to check the company’s credentials.
- Check any company website thoroughly; does it look professional? Are there any spelling mistakes or irregularities? There should be a valid landline phone number and a full postal address so that the company can be contacted. Avoid using the site if there is only a PO Box address and mobile phone number, as it could be difficult to get in touch after you buy tickets. PO Box addresses and mobile phone numbers are easy to change and difficult to trace.
- Be aware that purchasing tickets from a third party, particularly when initial contact has been made via a social media platform can be incredibly risky.
- If tickets to your intended destination appear cheaper than any other vendor, always consider this; if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
- Look for the logo: Check whether the company is a member of a recognised trade body such as ABTA or ATOL. You can verify membership of ABTA online, atwww.abta.com.
- If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.
Individuals and businesses are being warned to watch out for cold calls and online contact from fraudsters who are offering victims the opportunity to apply for Government grants for an advance fee.
To make the grants look legitimate fraudsters have set up bogus companies and convincing looking websites that claim to be operating on behalf of the UK Government.
Fraudsters cold call businesses and individuals offering the grant and if they’re interested direct them to fill out an online application form with their personal information.
Once the fraudsters have that information they’ll contact back victims and congratulate them on being accepted onto the grant programme.
Pre-paid credit cards
Applicants are then asked to provide identification and are instructed to get a pre-paid credit card to deposit their own contribution to the fake Government grant scheme. Fraudsters will then contact victims on the phone or are emailed and asked for the details of their pre-paid credit card and copies of statements to in order for them to add the grant funds.
Of course the grant funds are never given by the fraudsters and the money that’s been loaded by the victim onto the card is stolen.
If you receive one of these calls, hang up immediately and report it to us. We’ve already taken down one website fraudsters have been using to commit this fraud and are working with Companies House to combat this issue.
How to protect yourself:
Be wary of unsolicited callers implying that you can apply for grants. You should never have to pay to receive a government grant, and they definitely won’t instruct you to obtain a pre-paid credit card. The government should have all the information they need if a genuine grant application was submitted, therefore any requests for personal or banking information either over the phone or online should be refused.
What to do if you’re a victim:
- If you think your bank or personal details have been compromised or if you believe you have been defrauded contact your bank immediately.
- Stop all communication with the ‘agency’ but make a note of their details and report it to Action Fraud.
- If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
The information contained within this alert is based on information from gathered by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). The purpose of this alert is to increase awareness of this type of fraud. The alert is aimed at members of the public, local police forces, businesses and governmental agencies.
Do you know somebody with dementia or do you care for somebody with the illness? Stop scammers targeting them with Trading Standards’ call blockers.
Following the launch of my #beScamWise campaign earlier this year I have now joined up with the National Trading Standards team to become a Scambassador, I am committed to cutting scam-based crimes here in Lancashire.
As a Scambassador I have been informed that The National Trading Standards Scams team have secured government funding to provide free call blocking technology called trueCall Secure. This is to protect those in the most vulnerable circumstances from nuisance and scam calls.
Criminals purposely set out to target vulnerable people and for those living with dementia, it means they are extremely susceptible to being targeted with repeat attempts to steal their money and life savings.
Cold callers will prey on vulnerable people and I am committed to making sure that these criminals are stopped in any possible way. The average victim loses about £1,000, with older victims suffering more, losing around £5,000.
I want to highlight the fact that these trueCall boxes are there to help vulnerable people. The system lets a trusted caller ring the person as normal, but if the caller isn’t recognised or is flagged as a common scam caller then it acts as a personal assistant, intercepting the call and stopping it being connected.
This process blocks around 95% of unwanted calls without the phone ever ringing.
A limited number of these are available. Visit www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk to apply for a call blocker.