Scam targets migrants

31 May 2017

The ACCC is warning migrants to watch out for scammers pretending to be from government agencies including the Department Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in a new scam targeting recent travellers.

Scammers are calling migrants, claiming to be from DFAT and the Department of Immigration, and alleging that they have given false information on their visa documents or departure documents when they recently returned home to Australia. The victim is told to hand themselves into police, or pay almost $1000 via wire transfer through Western Union to stay in Australia, or face deportation.

This scam is particularly targeting migrants who have recently returned from India. Scamwatch has received over 20 reports in May, with five people losing more than $6,200 in total.

Scammers have obtained some victims’ date of birth, passport details and other personal information. The scam seems legitimate because the number that appears as the caller ID is in fact the DFAT phone number.

“If you receive a phone call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from ‘DFAT’, the ‘Department of Immigration’ or any government agency telling you that you have done something wrong or threatening you and asking for money, hang up,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“If you have any doubts about someone who says they are from a government department, contact the department directly. Don’t use any phone numbers, email addresses or websites provided by the caller – find these details through an independent source such as a phone book or online search. Don’t trust the caller ID as this can be faked.”

Never send any money via wire transfer or any other means to anyone you do not know or trust. Government departments like DFAT and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will never ask for wire transfers as a payment option.

Never give your personal information, bank account or credit card details over the phone unless you are sure you are speaking with a trusted source and you understand why the person is calling you. If you think you have provided your details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

You can keep up with recent scams by following @Scamwatch_gov on Twitter and subscribing to Scamwatch radar alerts.

Release number: 
MR 82/17
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