Officials at the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) department in Texas have issued a warning about a new phone scam. Threat actors carrying out the malicious campaign have been impersonating special agents at the San Antonio HSI to call up members of the public. Victims are told that a problem has been detected with their passport. They are then threatened with arrest by the imposter agent unless they make a payment to the HSI. “The scammers claim the passport is involved in some type of crime and threaten the caller by indicating police will be dispatched to their home to arrest them,” said officials at the San Antonio ICE in a scam warning issued November 4. The fraudsters have found a way to make it appear to the victim that the call they are receiving is coming from the HSI San Antonio main phone number, 210-979-4500. In July, ICE officials in Virginia warned international students that its phone number was being spoofed to trick individuals studying in the United States on student visas into making fraudulent payments and giving out sensitive personal information. The scammers behind that campaign asked international students for payments in Bitcoin, a currency not accepted by the federal government.
“HSI special agents and local police do not call people on the phone to warn them they are about to be arrested,” said HSI officials. “Agents neither request financial information, such as bank account and credit card account information, nor demand money from someone to dismiss an investigation or remove an arrest warrant.” Members of the public who receive a threatening call or message from the spoofed HSI number are advised to not give out any personal or financial information and to end the conversation immediately if threats and intimidation persist. HSI added that individuals who are targeted by the scammers can help law enforcement catch the criminals by trying to collect contact information from the caller and reporting it to the anonymous ICE tip line, 1 (866) 347-2423, or by completing the online tip form.