NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — ICE has a warning for international students: Beware of spoofing calls.
Its numbers are being used to trick international students here on student visas into paying and giving scammers sensitive personal information, according to Carissa Cutrell who is an ICE spokesperson out of Homeland Security Investigations Norfolk office.
“Scammers have been using a variety of Homeland Security phone numbers to contact individuals for money or personal information, and one of the numbers involved in the spoofing scam was the Homeland Security Investigations Norfolk phone number,” she said.
ICE runs under the Department of Homeland Security. Cutrell says spoofing is when individuals use a real phone number to facilitate fraudulent activity.
She says the calls aren’t just happening here in Hampton Roads, but nationwide.
“Scammers are consistent. They’ve been going on for years. They target vulnerability,” she said. “Whether you’re here in the country on a non-immigrant visa or an elderly person that needs assistance or having financial woes, those are all the vulnerabilities that a fraudster would prey on. We continually see them. We crack down on them and have been cracking down on them for years. You just need to report them to the authorities.”
Cutrell says federal agencies don’t typically call unwarranted unless you call first. They would also never ask for personal information or demand money over the phone.
Another giveaway that its a spoofing call is the type of payment they’re asking for.
“In the latest round of spoofing, they’ve been requesting Bitcoin. Bitcoin is something the federal government wouldn’t use at this time,” she said.
Cutrell says they’re tracking spoofers but it’s important for those who are victims to alert the authorities.
“In order to build a case against a criminal organization, we need victims to come forward to see what type of fraudulent activity they’ve encountered,” she said.
The number scammers have been spoofing is 757-441-6533.
You can contact your local law enforcement agency or you can contact HSI.
They have a tip line that is active 24/7. That number is 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.
You can also leave a tip online here.