RCMP warn of phone scam targeting and threatening immigrants
Police say scammers sometimes threaten the victim's children
The RCMP is warning of an ongoing phone scam by people posing as immigration officials who demand additional fees and sometimes threaten the children of victims.
CBC News reported on the phone scam last month, when a Toronto woman almost became the victim of the scam.
She received a call from someone claiming to be an immigration official demanding payment of a $2,500 fine.
RCMP investigators have now created an example of the kind of phone call scammers have been using, based on the questions and threats police have heard about from victims who have reported the scam.
Investigators say the fraudsters normally identify themselves with an anglophone name, which is in contrast to their strong accent.
The callers then tell the victims something has changed with their immigration case and additional fees are required.
The imposter then begins to ask for personal information like the target's full name, address, the number of people in the home, occupation, and passport number.
In the example, the scammer claims the victim did not disclose something about his or her work situation and tells the target to pay $12,000.
The victim questions the claim, and then police say the imposter generally gets irritated and starts to aggressively threaten the target.
Investigators say those threats could include them being arrested, deported, and separated from children.
The fraudster then tries to get the target to immediately go to a money transferring service like Western Union or MoneyGram.
If victims question the caller's legitimacy more threats could follow, and if they're not scared into doing what the fraudster says, police say the fraudster usually hangs up.
The RCMP says the scam has been used across the country and has affected men and women of different ages and cultural backgrounds.
Police urge anyone who has received such a call, or knows someone who has, to report it.
The RCMP also advises that potential victims follow the steps below if they suspect they're receiving an immigration scam call:
- If they have call display, note the number and where the call came from
- Hang up
- Look up the real number for the government agency
- Call that number too see if the situation is legitimate
- Report the call to police