The details of this scam will vary between countries, but the key elements are as follows:
- You receive a call or an email from a scammer pretending to be from the immigration department in the country where you are studying.
- The scammer may know your personal details, including your full names and passport numbers. This makes the scam more convincing.
- Your personal information may have been stolen, purchased on the darkweb, or obtained from your own social media accounts.
- When the scammer calls you, they may use number ‘spoofing’ to make it appear that the phone number is legitimate by copying the same phone number or number format used by the government authority.
- The scammer may even ask you to verify the number by checking the immigration authority’s website.
- The scammer tells you there is a problem with your visa and that you must pay a fine and/or give the scammer personal information.
- The scammer may instruct you to pay the fine via Western Union or MoneyGram.
- Alternatively the scammer may tell you to pay by purchasing gift cards (eg ITunes or Google Play gift cards) and sending them to the scammer.
- The scammer says that, if you do not pay the fine, you will be reported to the police and/or immigration department who will detain or deport you.