There have been a number of reports that Indian nationals in the UK – including a large number of Tier 4 student visa holders – have been targeted in a telephone fraud operation. Students at a number of universities have received calls from individuals pertaining to be from the UK Border Agency (UKBA). False names are being given and the telephone number 020 3239 8294 is being quoted.
These calls most definitely are not from the UKBA.
The fraudsters seem to have collected limited information about their targets, including phone number, full name and passport number, which may cause some people to view the calls as genuine and credible.
The calls all play out in a typical fashion: there is a serious problem with your immigration status and you must make an immediate payment by Western Union (this should start your alarm bells ringing!).
Payment is demanded to prevent action or investigation by the UKBA. Dramatic and highly emotive language is often used as is regular reference to deportation. The common fraudster theme of pressure and panic is all too apparent here.
The incidents have been reported to the UKBA and they have stated that they are taking the matter very seriously. Whilst it is true that UKBA caseworkers may on very rare occasions contact an individual with a pending application, they would not contact an existing visa holder in this way. Further, the UKBA does not have any system of financial penalties.
What remains unanswered however is how the fraudsters have obtained details such as passport numbers.
Should you get such a call we offer some simple advice:
- Do not confirm or provide any further personal information.
- Do not under any circumstances make any payment.
- You could note down the name and return phone number given to you or you could simply hang-up.
- Report the call to your international student advisor and if you would like to proceed, they can help you file a fraud complaint with the police and the UKBA.
- The call can also be reported online to Action Fraud