ALERT: Sheffield residents warned over immigration scam

Cyber crime.
Cyber crime.

Fraudsters are swindling people out of their money through a cold calling scam in which they claim there is a problem with the victim's immigration status.

Sheffield residents are being warned about the scam in which fraudsters are calling victims from what appears to be a genuine Home Office telephone number 0207 354 848.

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However the number has in fact been ‘spoofed’, which is where fraudsters use software that allows them to display any number they wish on a victim’s phone.

They claim there is a problem with the victim's immigration status and in order to rectify this they must pay an up-front fee.

Action Fraud, the national cyber crime reporting centre, said there has been more than 300 cases in recent months across the country.

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A spokesperson said: "The victims are asked to confirm personal details, such as their passport number and date of arrival in the United Kingdom. If a victim starts to question the call, the fraudsters point out the ‘spoofed’ number to make the request seem legitimate.

"Many victims who have been targeted by this fraud have had an association to India. The fraudsters often state that the victim has outstanding criminal charges against them in India, or that their official documentation was not completed satisfactorily upon their arrival into the United Kingdom.

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"Victims are left with three options - either face deportation; face arrest and imprisonment; or pay the up-front fee.

"Victims are asked to pay the fees through a variety of methods, including; Bitcoin, money transfers via a Money Service Bureau or by purchasing iTunes vouchers before relaying the voucher code to the suspect.

"Fraudsters usually attempt to keep the victim on the phone until the payment is received, which can be hours at a time."

Action Fraud advised that the Home Office, Police or any UK law enforcement agency will never ask for money over the telephone.