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Scam alert: Fake ICE agents calling to solicit money, threaten deportation

Despicable act of exploitation

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Scammers posing as Immigration and Customs Enforcement are reportedly targeting immigrants, calling them on the telephone and threatening them with deportation if they do not turn over sums of money.

What are the details?

According to the Patch page for Palos Park, Illinois, scammers are calling immigrants and posing as ICE agents.

Palos Park Police Department Chief Joe Miller told the outlet that an area teacher and professional have been hit with the same phone calls. The phone calls, according to the outlet, demand payment via gift cards or money orders. The caller also reportedly threatens that there is a warrant out for the person's arrest.

"Anyone getting such a call should hang up and call the police," Miller warned. "Police do not call people looking for someone's country of origin or immigration status, nor do police ask you over the phone for your social security number."

Numbers showing up on victims caller IDs are actual DHS numbers, part of a telephone spoofing scam targeting individuals throughout the country. Spoofing is the deliberate falsifying of information transmitted to a caller ID display to disguise an identity.

In a Tuesday Facebook post, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services warned residents of the ongoing scam, and pointing out that the scam involves a USCIS phone number.

"We're aware of a recent phone scam involving a USCIS phone number," the posting read. "If you get an unsolicited phone call from someone asking for personal information and they say they're from USCIS, hang up. It's not us calling you. Don't fall victim to phone scams."

What else?

The incident has apparently experienced a resurgence since March, when news of the scam initially made rounds in the news.

The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General issued an alert about the very same scam in which people were disguising themselves as ICE agents and demanding money.

The March 1 release read:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) is issuing this fraud alert to warn citizens of reports that DHS telephone numbers have been used recently as part of a telephone spoofing scam targeting individuals throughout the country. Spoofing is the deliberate falsifying of information transmitted to a caller ID display to disguise an identity.

The perpetrators of the scam represent themselves as employees with "U.S. Immigration" or other government entities. They alter caller ID systems to make it appear that the call is coming from the DHS HQ Operator number (202-282-8000) or the DHS Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) number (202-401-1474). The scammers obtain or verify personally identifiable information from their victims through various tactics, including by telling individuals that they are the victims of identity theft. The scammers also pose as law enforcement or immigration officials and threaten victims with arrest unless they make payments to the scammers using a variety of methods. The scammers have also emailed victims from email addresses ending in "uscis.org." Many of the scammers reportedly have pronounced accents.

DHS OIG takes this matter very seriously. While we investigate the situation, we would like to remind the public that DHS never uses its HQ Operator or CRCL number to make outgoing calls of this nature. Individuals receiving phone calls from these numbers should not provide any personal information. It continues to be perfectly safe to place calls to the DHS HQ Operator and CRCL numbers and DHS officials may continue to be contacted by dialing the DHS HQ Operator number.
One last thing…
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