An international student in NZ has been scammed out of $7000 in a government impostor – visa scam.

On 14 December the student, Kulwant Gill, was contacted by a caller claiming to be from the Indian High Commission in New Zealand who convinced him to transfer money to an overseas account in order to fix a problem with his visa.

Kulwant recently applied for a “Police Clearance Certificate”. According to the website of the Indian High Commission in New Zealand:

[A] Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) is issued by the High Commission, certifying the person’s criminal record with the Indian police. It is generally required when a person applies for a visa/ permanent residency.

Website of High Commission of India in New Zealand

Building trust

Kulwant said that the scammer gained his trust because:

  • they knew his Police Clearance Certificate application number lodged with the High Commission
  • they knew details about his first arrival in New Zealand in 2016 to pursue studies in business, and
  • they knew the status of his latest student visa extension application with Immigration New Zealand, which had been declined only a few days earlier.

Kulwant said:

My student visa extension application was declined only a couple of days ago, and I had not shared this information with anyone – even my family overseas and my close friends and flatmates.

When the caller told me about the status of my declined visa application, along with the name of the case-officer, I was left with no other choice than to believe him completely.

Kulwant did the right thing and tried to verify the caller’s authenticity by checking the number displaying on his mobile was the same as mentioned on the Indian High Commission’s website. It was.

Creating fear and control

The scammer then warned Kulwant about an alleged “police complaint in New Zealand” that would show up on his police clearance report and put at risk his visa application with Immigration NZ.

The scammer instructed Kulwant to send money by Western Union to an address in Vietnam and promised that this would fix the problems related to the police clearance certificate.

To control Kulwant, and make sure he made the money transfer, the caller said that he should remain on the phone.

Kulwant stayed on the phone with the scammer while he went out, fetched money from the bank, and made two separate transfers of $3775 and $3115.

Photo: Indian Weekender

Indian High Commission Response

On 16 December the High Commission of India in New Zealand issued a warning about scams and spoof calls.

Protect yourself from scams

Knowledge is the best defence.

As an international student, the best way to protect yourself from scams is to ensure you understand the risks and warning signs.

Study Guard can help.

Stay safe – by taking our free course on ‘Scams Targeting International Students‘ today.

It takes about 10 minutes and could save you from becoming a victim of a scam.

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