There has been on onslaught of immigration scams in the recent months. We’ve written about it before and we’re writing about it again, because we want to protect you.
Phone spoofing is a method used that allows a scammer to fool your phone into thinking that they are calling from a different number. This both conceals their identity and disguises them to appear as if they are calling from a legitimate organisation; the tax office, the bank, phone companies and various immigration related practices. The ploys out there are endless.
ABC news: Tax office phone scammers threaten people with arrest if money not paid
SMH news: Australians conned out of $1 million in tax scams so far this year, says ACCC
ABC news: Extortion scammers targeting migrants by posing as immigration officials
SBS news: Scammers threatening Indian visa holders with arrest and deportation
As the immigration department does not make public its direct lines, scammers use phone numbers from other convincing agencies and organisations to cover their tracks. The Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) has put up a warning on their website not so long ago, alerting would-be victims that the MARA hotline numbers have been used in such scams. Our office (Australian Immigration Law Services) has not been spared either. As a reputable company, many unfortunate individuals have taken the scammer to be genuine and have fallen for the hoax.
It is completely alarming to receive a call to be told that you’ve made some mistake that conclude with your being deported. I’m sure many of you are thinking, ‘no way would I get tricked’. But if the life you have carefully and painstakingly built here is threatened and the scammer knows your name, your birthday, maybe even your address, it get’s a little harder to keep a clear head.
What should you do to prevent yourself from being swindled out of your hard earned savings? Try your best to keep a calm head and ask for the caller to verify themselves through sending you an official email detailing what might be the problem with your application. The scammer will be unable to hack official emails and emails from the DIBP come from a gov.au address. The DIBP will never ask for money over the phone.
So what do you if you’re a victim of such a heartless crime? We urge you to get in touch with your bank to see if anything can be done about the transfer, speak to the police, make a report to the Department of Home Affairs and to warn your friends.
And we urge everyone to do the same. Even if you have no experience with such an unpleasant encounter, you do not know how far your message may spread and whom you might save from a scammer.
Take care, everyone.