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Scam after scam targets Indians

Venkat Raman – 
venkat@indiannewslink.co.nz

From Immigration to Income Tax, members of the Indian community seem to have become the prime target of fraudsters, whose identity is yet to be unmasked.

The latest is people applying for Citizenship.

Although the Internal Affairs Department has issued a general warning, complaints received at our offices over the past few days were from Indians who have applied for ‘New Zealand Citizenship by Grant,’ after successful completion of the statutory period of Permanent Residence.

Citizenship Scam

One reader said that he received a call on his mobile phone.

“The caller told me that I had not completed the Citizenship application form correctly and that I stood the risk of being declined citizenship and that I should remit $600 immediately to an account that he specified. I complied but learn later that the call was not from Internal Affairs. I also learnt that my application was being processed. Attempts to get the phone number of the caller was not successful,” he said.

Another reader said that she paid $1000 for four passport application forms.

“The callers claim to be from Immigration New Zealand. The caller may say that there is a problem with the citizenship application, seeking money to resolve the issue. If you receive one of these calls or have any concerns regarding your citizenship application, please call Internal Affairs directly on 0800-225151,” it said.

The scam appears to target a variety of nationalities, including Indian and Fijian nationals. INZ is currently assessing the extent of the problem, but since the beginning of June INZ has received about 180 complaints from customers who have been contacted by a scam caller.

Immigration Fraud

Scam after scam-Citizenship Scam WebINZ Area Manager Michael Carley said these call scams typically involve fraudsters deceiving people into believing they are speaking to an INZ staff member who demand payment from people to avoid deportation or arrest.

“Usually, the caller will quote reference numbers that appear to reference INZ applications, but are false.  There also seemed to be instances where the caller is asking for payment in the form of iTunes vouchers,” he said.

He said that often the fraudsters have some details of the person they are speaking to such as their name or address.

“Fraudsters can be cunning in their tactics and may call from what appears to be a legitimate phone number when the call is actually made from another number. This technology is known as ID spoofing scams.

“I want to be clear that these calls are not from INZ, we would never ring someone and demand money or the purchase of iTunes vouchers over the phone.  To ensure you don’t fall prey to this type of scam, never give your personal details out in response to such a call or rely on the caller ID as a means of identification. If you think you have been victim to one of these calls it is important to report it to the Police or to Scamwatch,” he said.

Readers may also contact the nearest police station.

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