People who have recently come to live in Australia are being targeted by callous phone scammers.
The scammers, who pretend to be from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Department of Home Affairs, or other government entities, inform victims that there is a problem with their immigration status and that they will need to immediately pay a fee of several thousand dollars to rectify the problem.
The scammers threaten victims with deportation or even imprisonment if they do not pay the requested fee. Victims are usually instructed to pay via a money transfer system such as Western Union.
DFAT has published a warning about the scams on its website, which notes in part:
DFAT is aware of a phone scam involving a caller seeking confirmation of immigration status. The caller is asking people to pay money to avoid having their Australian visa cancelled.
Please be aware that DFAT would never ask for payment to be made over the phone. Do not volunteer your details or pay any money in response.
The Department of Home Affairs has also published a warning about the scams, noting:
We are concerned by recent scam phone calls, claiming to be from the Department of Home Affairs (the Department), with the caller requesting money to progress visa applications.
The caller identifies themselves as an employee of the Department, and typically introduces themselves using a first name. The phone number might appear to be a genuine official number.
The Department will never request money over the phone.
If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the Department who requests money, report it using our Immigration and citizenship online report.
While this report discusses scams happening in Australia, criminals use almost identical tactics to target immigrants in other nations as well.