National Fraud Intelligence Bureau reports increase in cases of cold-calling fraudsters pretending to be from the Home Office.
There has been an increase in fraudsters cold-calling victims pretending to be from the Home Office, according to a recent update from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). The phone call will claim that there is a problem with the persons’ immigration status, and victims are informed they must pay an up-front fee to rectify the issue. In addition to this, victims are often asked to confirm their passport number and date of arrival in the UK.
This is clearly a sophisticated scheme, and there have been many reported cases where the phone number displayed on the caller ID is a genuine Home Office telephone number – 0207 035 4848. This does not mean that the call has actually originated from the Home Office. This is a method called ‘spoofing’ and fraudsters will use it to convince victims that their call is genuine.
Mike Wright, Partner at Quantuma says: “With increasing sophistication of software, fraudsters are utilising applications to appear genuine, we recommend:
- Do not reveal any personal information to someone calling you on your phone.
- Always phone the company or in this case the government department direct.
- Leave a gap of at least 10 minutes before you call and ensure you hear a dialling tone on your phone when you ring out. If the caller is genuine you will be able to discuss the matter with a genuine team within the organisation.
- Do not call them back on a number they suggest or the number which they called you from, unless you know 100% that it is a genuine number.”
Many people who have been targeted by this fraud have had an association to India. The fraudsters will tell their victim that they have outstanding criminal charges against them in India, or that their official documentation was not completed satisfactorily when they got to the UK. They will then be told that they either face deportation; arrest and imprisonment; or pay the up-front fee.
Victims are asked to pay through a variety of methods, including money transfers via a Money Service Bureau and by purchasing iTunes vouchers before relaying the voucher code to the suspect. The fraudster usually attempts to keep the victim on the phone until the payment is received, which can be hours at a time.
- The Home Office, Police or any UK Law Enforcement Agency will never ask for money over the telephone, or ask you to use non-secure payment methods such as a transfer via a Money service Bureau, iTunes voucher(s) or cryptocurrency e.g. Bitcoin.
- If you have any concerns regarding your immigration status, please visit the following government website to speak with someone regarding your specific immigration issue: https://www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-inside-outside-uk
- If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk, or by calling 0300 123 2040.
(Information provided from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and City of London Police)
Quantuma’s investigators work with leading law firms, financial institutions and organisations, advising on complex multi-jurisdictional matters including fraud, litigation, debt/asset recovery, arbitration and corporate.
For more information contact:
Mike Wright, Partner
Quantuma LLP, High Holborn House, 52-54 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6RL
Tel: +44 (0)7970 049497