Telephone Scam Targeting Refugees

March 12, 2012 UPDATE – Where to file a complaint about telephone scam targeting refugees

Dear friends,
ORR has just been advised that anyone who has been targeted by the recent telephone scam should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), at www.ftc.gov.  The FTC tracks and investigates fraud cases that are perpetuated by telephone.

The online complaint form is available in English and Spanish at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/.

In addition, the FTC offers helpful information about protecting yourself against fraud of all types; for more information, please visit their Scam Watch page at www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts

Please share widely within your networks; we will continue to bring you information as it develops.

Thank you,
ORR


March 12, 2012 UPDATE

New details on a telephone scam targeting refugees across the country: an Iraqi refugee from Baton Rouge, LA, has reported that he has been contacted three times by telephone, with the caller telling him that he has run up a credit card bill of $4,279, which can be settled for either a $2,600 lump sum payment to clear his credit rating, or payments of $895 per month.  The caller stresses that “this is really a problem” for which he could “get into a lot of trouble in America.”  The Iraqi man asked the caller for identifying documents, which have not been forthcoming.  He brought this situation to the attention of his local resettlement agency, which helped him to verify that there is no such balance on his credit card. 

Everyone is advised to be extra-cautious with callers demanding money.  Legitimate calls can be easily verified, and those targeted are encouraged to report these incidents to their local affiliates or to ORR directly, at ORR_listserve@acf.hhs.gov

Thank you,
ORR


March 6, 2012 UPDATE – New Developments in Telephone Scam Tactics

World Relief reports that the perpetrators of a nationwide telephone scam targeting refugees have changed their approach to obtain money and personal information.  An Iraqi refugee in Washington State was contacted from a blocked number on Sunday evening, and asked to verify personal information including his refugee case number, home address, and benefits account number.  The caller identified himself as a World Relief employee, from their (non-existent) Montana office. 

Everyone is advised to be extra-vigilant with unsolicited calls, especially those requesting personal information.  If you are the target of one of these calls, you should file an online report at www.ic3.gov.

ORR will continue to update this page as necessary.  Please help to spread the word throughout the refugee community and service providers network. Thank you.


February 23, 2012 UPDATE – WHERE TO FILE REPORTS OF VICTIMIZATION

Reports of refugee families victimized by the recent telephone scam targeting Bhutanese refugees have come in from Texas, Washington State, Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska.

We have been advised that victims of this scam should file an online report at www.ic3.gov; once enough incidents occur as tracked through that site, the FBI will pursue the case.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).

ORR will continue to update this page as necessary.  Please help to spread the word throughout the refugee community and service providers network.  Thank you.


Dear friends,

In early January, we circulated a message concerning a telephone scam targeting refugees.  At that time, a man was calling Bhutanese refugees, identifying himself as a representative of the “Federal Grants Department” from a Washington, DC-based telephone number, 202-436-9601, informing recently resettled refugees that they were eligible to receive $10,000 because they are refugees from Bhutan.  To claim the money, they were instructed to produce a money order for $650, and call the telephone number for further instructions on where to send the money.

We have received updated reports that the scam is still on-going, but some of the details have since changed.  Most recently, refugees (again, still Bhutanese) have received calls from a man who identifies himself as “Nathan Price with the IRS” calling from a different DC-based telephone number, 202-657-4189, who instructs the refugees to have money wired to various people in India.

The most recent target of this scam lost over $6,000.

ORR advises everyone to be aware of this scam, and avoid giving any personal information or making payments to unknown callers.

Please note that the federal government does not demand processing fees, security deposits, or overseas wire transfers from grant recipients or refugees.  If you are the target of a suspicious request, please contact your local police or resettlement agency for further assistance.

Please share this advisory widely within your own networks.