Our office has received reports from clients over the last several weeks regarding multiple immigration scams, where individuals or businesses pretending to be U.S. government-related agencies or affiliates reach out via email or telephone to request information from foreign nationals in the U.S. in lawful status.
One example is the following email, which a client received just today:
Case Number: XXXXXXXXX
Case Category: Act (INA) section 265 (8 U.S.C 1305)
Status: Warrant issued for background Check.
U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20229
Immigrant Name: [NAME]
This is to notify you that USCIS has issued a warrant for background check under Act (INA) section 265 (8 U.S.C 1305) . USCIS found that you have failed to update your AR-11(Alien's Change of Address Card).
As per the Act (INA) section 265 (8 U.S.C 1305), Failure to report a change of address is punishable by fine or imprisonment and/or removal from the United States.
The United States Department of Justice will contact you for background check, Though due to the impact of COVID-19, Please expect some delay in response. We encourage you to register yourself for a background check and AR-11 update at our toll free line- 1844-413-0288 (Monday to Friday, 09:00 EST - 14:00 EST).
According to USA Immigration law you are bound to follow all protocols and must cooperate with federal officers for the verification of documents. In the event of non cooperation from immigrants, will lead to his/her arrest, punishable with fine/imprisonment or removal from the USA. Any immigrants with children below 18 years of age, children will be sent to foster homes till the time the investigation is not over.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
1344 Pleasants Drive Harrisonburg, VA 22801
Scammers will frequently link to legitimate government websites to lend credibility to their claims, as occurred in the above email. In addition, they may reference a real requirement under U.S. law—in this case, that all foreign nationals register their change of address/new address within ten days from the date of such change. However, clues to the illegitimacy of this email can be found throughout. Notice the mistakes in grammar, as well as the unreasonably threatening language where it states “Any immigrants with children below 18 years of age, children will be sent to foster homes till the time the investigation is not over.” The sentence doesn’t even make sense, and is clearly written to instill fear of the worst possible outcomes to elicit a knee-jerk response. The U.S. government may be tough on immigration violations, but putting children in foster care because their parents didn’t file an address change notification? Seems extremely unlikely, don’t you think?
To see what would happen, I called the number provided above and said I was the attorney calling to find out what needed to be done to correct any errors. My next clue to the fact this was a scam call was that the person I spoke with picked up the line after 3 rings. Not trying to be funny here, but that almost NEVER happens with a government customer service line. Have you ever called the USCIS Customer Service line? With government customer service lines, you almost always reach an automated message and have to click through about 40 “press X” numbers before you can reach a human being—if the automated system doesn’t hang up on you first. As soon as I informed the speaker that I was the client’s attorney, he quickly stated that he had my number and needed to check with a supervisor but would call me back, and hung up. Needless to say, I haven’t heard a word back.
Another client of our firm who was recently approved for her Green Card received a call, ostensibly from the Social Security Administration. The caller wanted a lot of personal information from the client. As soon as the client said they were going to speak with their attorney, the caller quickly hung up.
If you receive an email or call from a government agency, we strongly encourage you to reference that you are going to speak with your attorney before providing any information, and call your designated Lippes Mathias immigration counsel or contact. Please do not give out personal information before verifying that the request is actually from a government entity, and legitimate.