The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reported a rise in cases of scammers targeting international students, especially those from South Asian countries.
Scam callers who typically know the personal details and immigration status of these students have recently been disguising themselves as federal employees and extorting money from them via Google Play, iTunes, and Bitcoin, the commission said in an alert issued for the students.
“We’ve been getting reports that foreign students, particularly from South Asian countries, are getting phone calls that look like they’re from the government,” Rosario Méndez, an attorney within the Division of Consumer and Business Education at the FTC, said.
“He’ll say there’s a problem with the student’s immigration documents or visa renewal. And then he’ll demand immediate payment, often thousands of dollars, for a fee or bogus immigration bond. These callers have made threats, including arrest or deportation,” she added.
The commission has asked students to remain vigilant and watch out for scam calls, especially since the federal government does not make threatening calls or ask for these forms of payment. It recommends that students who receive calls of this nature hang up and get in touch with the FTC.
Students who are concerned about their immigration or visa status can reach out to USCIS’s National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283. Furthermore, the Department of Homeland Security also has some tips on how to avoid immigrant scams.