The District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) warns the District’s immigrant community to be on the alert for con artists pretending to be agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or local police.
An immigrant gets a telephone call from someone pretending to be an ICE agent. The agent informs the victim that he or she has violated immigration law(s) and is in immediate danger of arrest and deportation. In a threatening tone, the agent scares the immigrant victim into revealing their date of birth, social security number, credit card number and other personally identifiable information. The scammer tells the victim that the only way to avoid arrest and deportation is by paying thousands of dollars in immigration fees and fines.
Con artists will often call from a phone that will appear on Caller ID as an official ICE number. They can even use the official ICE website to convince their victims of their authenticity. While the ICE agent impersonator is on the phone with the victim, another scammer pretending to be a local police officer will call the victim using a fake telephone number that looks like a police number. The police impersonator states, in a very intimidating manner, that an arrest warrant has been issued and that officers are on their way to place the victim under arrest (sometimes the recorded sound of police sirens can be heard in the background).
The fake police officer proceeds to tell the victim to cooperate and pay whatever amount the fake ICE agent is requesting; only by paying ICE can the victim avoid immediate arrest and deportation. The panicked victim is instructed to navigate to the official ICE website and read the immigration bond form. An immigration bond is commonly used to help release a noncitizen from ICE custody pending their deportation hearing.
At this point, the fake ICE agent demands that the victim pay $3,999 or some other amount to stop the investigation and vacate the arrest warrant. The terrified victim complies by sending the money to the scammers, which is then lost and not recoverable.
- ICE Agents and local police do not call immigrants on the phone to warn them that they are about to be arrested and deported for violating immigration laws;
- Agents do not request financial information (e.g., bank account and credit card account information) or demand money from someone to dismiss an investigation or vacate an arrest warrant.
You can report suspected ICE agent fraud to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General at 1-800-323-8603, and police officer impersonation to the Metropolitan Police Department Financial Crimes and Fraud Unit at (202) 727-4159. You may also contact DISB’s Enforcement and Consumer Protection Division at (202) 727-8000.
Learn how to avoid other scams by visiting disb.dc.gov/page/consumer-scams.