Nov. 8— In Texas, officials with the US Department of Homeland Security have uncovered a passport scam involving impersonation attempts and fraudulent messages. Persons behind the attacks are imitating special agents at the San Antonio Homeland Security Investigations Department (HSI) and placing phone calls to members of the public.
In the calls, the scammers pretend to have identified a problem with a person’s passport. The victim hears that he/she will be arrested unless a payment is made.
The passport scam details…
The fraudsters have also found a means of making the intimidating phone calls appear as though they come from the HIS San Antonio main phone number. In some instances, victims have been told that police will be dispatched to their homes.
Says one HSI official “…special agents and local police do not call people on the phone to warn them they are about to be arrested.” Similarly, agents do not request personal information, and they do not demand payments from citizens in relation to dismissing investigations or removing an arrest warrant.
Members of the public who receive these kinds of intimidating phone calls can assist law enforcement by jotting down the caller’s contact information and reporting it to the anonymous ICE tip line or by completing an online tip form.
Is this scam new?
In July, a group of international students living in the US reported a scam involving fraudulent demands for payments in relation to student visas. The scammers appeared interested in collecting personal details and in monetary gain. Notably, the individuals behind this attack demanded payment in Bitcoin, which is not a currency accepted by the US government.
While this scam may be new, this type of scam has been in existence for some time. Ensure that you and your contacts manage to avoid passport scams, especially as travel is picking up again and an increasing number of people are digging out or renewing passports.