Home FTC: Scammers impersonating U.S. immigration officers, threaten deportation

FTC: Scammers impersonating U.S. immigration officers, threaten deportation

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The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers that scammers are calling people and pretending to be from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

The scam, according to the FTC, involves someone calling you or emailing you and saying you are in violation of immigration law. Or they might say that your identity information is wrong or out of date. Or warn that you owe fees.

Their goal is to trick you into giving them money or your personal information.

Immigrants are especially vulnerable in this scam, because scammers often threaten to call the police or have you deported if you don’t give the information they want.

Here are some things to know from the FTC regarding this scam:

  • ICE and USCIS never call out of the blue and demand money. If the caller wants you to pay a fee or share personal details like your date of birth or bank account numbers, hang up. It’s a scam.
  • ICE and USCIS never accept payments using gift cards, cryptocurrency, or wire transfers. If someone asks you to pay this way, it’s a scam.
  • Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can make their phone numbers look real even if they’re not. Sometimes they’ll have you look up their number to confirm it’s what’s listed on the agency’s website — even if it matches, it could still be a trick.
  • Check with ICE or USCIS if you’re unsure about whether a call or email is real. Never call back phone numbers in caller ID or left in voicemails or emails. Instead, type the agency name into a search bar and click on their webpage to find the correct contact information.

For more information on these types of scams, visit ftc.gov/imposters.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.