Phone scams come in all shapes and sizes, and there are several new schemes that are targeting immigrants with demands for payments to maintain or update their immigration status.

The scams closely resemble the IRS phone fraud scams that prey on victims’ fear of being penalized or arrested for unpaid back taxes. In this case, the scammers are calling recent immigrants and trying to scare and threaten them into sending money via PayPal, Western Union, or other money service to settle some imaginary trouble with their immigration status. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service is warning immigrants about the scam.

“Immigrants all over the country are being targeted in scams. Don’t be one of the victims! Scammers may call or email you, pretending to be a government official. They will say that there is a problem with an application or additional information is required to continue the immigration process. They will then ask for personal and sensitive details, and demand payment to fix any problems,” USCIS said in an alert this week.

These campaigns use many of the same tools and techniques as typical phone fraud scams, including  those that target college students, elderly people, and other victim groups. Phone scammers often use caller ID spoofing software that allows them to disguise the real number and location from which they’re calling. They also will use software to modify their voices and sometimes will provide victims with callback numbers to seem more legitimate.

The goal of these scams is to get the victim to hand over either a large sum of money or a pile of personal information that can be used in ID theft and other related crimes.

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