The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and Ogletree Deakins have received reports of a telephone scam that is targeted at foreign nationals and designed to fraudulently elicit money and personal information. In a common scenario, the caller poses as an officer of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and has certain correct information concerning the individual, including his or her name and address. The caller then claims that USCIS has discovered certain discrepancies in the person’s immigration records and requests confirmation of personal immigration data, such as an I-94 number, an “A” number, or a visa control number. Foreign nationals are cautioned against sharing this information with anyone as it can be used to obtain additional data about the foreign national from USCIS or to generate falsified immigration records in the foreign national’s name.
The caller then informs the foreign national that USCIS charges a penalty for failure to clear up the discrepancy. Subsequently, the “officer” instructs the victim to send a sum of money, via Western Union, to a specific address, which is, of course, not an authorized USCIS address.
Please be on alert that foreign national employees may be receiving such telephone calls. USCIS rarely communicates through telephone calls and relies more frequently on written communications. Moreover, if the foreign national is represented by counsel, USCIS generally directs all such written requests to the attorney of record. Foreign nationals who receive such telephone calls from individuals claiming to be USCIS officers should be wary and should not provide any personal details over the phone. Instead, they should ask for the caller’s name, department, and a telephone number at which the caller can be contacted.
If one of your foreign national employees has received a suspicious call, contact the Ogletree Deakins attorney with whom you normally work. You may also report such calls to appropriate law enforcement authorities, such as the FBI, and to the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.