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Immigration scammers pose as ICE, stealing from terrified victims

In an attempt to defraud U.S. residents, scammers are posing as ICE agents by threatening arrest, deportation — or both.

WASHINGTON — The District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) is warning District consumers to be on the lookout for con artists posing as ICE agents in tech support scams. 

In an attempt to defraud U.S. residents, scammers are posing as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and threatening arrest, deportation — or both.

Officials say the scammers are calling the victims by phone, pretending to be an ICE agent. The "agent" informs the victim that he or she has violated immigration law(s) and is in immediate danger of arrest and deportation. In a threatening tone, officials say the agent scares the immigrant victim into revealing their date of birth, social security number, credit card number and other personally identifiable information. 

The scammer tells the victims that the only way to avoid arrest and deportation is by paying thousands of dollars in immigration fees and fines.

Officials say the scammers will often call from a phone that will appear on Caller ID as an official ICE number and during the process, will pass along a counterfeit ICE website to convince their victims of their authenticity. 

While the ICE agent impersonator is on the phone with the victim, officials say another scammer pretending to be a local police officer will call the victim using a fake telephone number that looks like a police number. 

According to officials, the police impersonator states, in a very intimidating manner, that an arrest warrant has been issued and that officers are on their way to place the victim under arrest. The recorded sound of police sirens can sometimes be heard in the background, officials said.

The fake police officer proceeds to tell the victim to cooperate and pay whatever amount the fake ICE agent is requesting; only by paying ICE can the victim avoid immediate arrest and deportation. The panicked victim, officials say, is instructed to navigate to a counterfeit ICE website and read and pay for the immigration bond form.

DISB mentions the following tips in order to ensure safety amongst residents:

  • ICE agents and local police do not call immigrants on the phone to warn them that they are about to be arrested and deported for violating immigration laws;
  • Agents do not request financial information (e.g., bank account and credit card account information) or demand money from someone to dismiss an investigation or vacate an arrest warrant.

Officials say victims can report suspected ICE agent fraud to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General at 1-800-323-8603, and police officer impersonation to the Metropolitan Police Department Financial Crimes and Fraud Unit at 202-727-4159. 

You may also contact DISB’s Enforcement and Consumer Protection Division at 202-727-8000.

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