The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is urging visa holders and Australian citizens to hang up on fraudulent phone calls from scammers.
The ACCC has received reports of scammers impersonating government officials who threaten visa holders and citizens with deportation because they claim these people have not filled out immigration forms correctly.
Scammers are targeting people by demanding up-front fees of around $1,000 to resubmit forms. A high proportion of those targeted have been people from India and Pakistan.
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said they have received 150 reports of this scam since February with more than $35,000 reported lost.
“Anyone who receives this type of call seeking payment should ignore the demands for payment and hang up. Scammers may try to pressure you by repeatedly calling and harassing you – but if you give your money to a scammer you will never see it again,” Ms Rickard said.
“Don’t be fooled because someone has your personal information such as address, birth date, visa status or nationality because these details can be collected online through websites and social networking forums.”
“Never send money or give your account details to a stranger. Alarm bells should go off if you are asked for international wire transfers as these transactions are almost impossible to trace. Scammers may not only steal what’s in your account but use what you have provided to steal your identity,” Ms Rickard said.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has confirmed that they never request payments over the phone or through international money transfer providers.
When more information regarding a visa application is required, DIBP will either contact the applicant or sponsor directly, or through their migration agent if they are using one.
To report a scam, contact the ACCC via Report a Scam.
Further information is available on the SCAMwatch website and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.