Fraudsters are calling victims from what appears to a genuine Home Office telephone number 0207 354 848 - which has in fact been ‘spoofed’. To spoof numbers, fraudsters use software that allows them to display any number they wish on a victim’s phone.
Fraudsters tell victims there is a problem with their immigration status and in order to rectify this issue, they must pay an up-front fee. They 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.
In 2017, 305 Action Fraud reports included the Home Office number 0207 035 4848.
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.
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.