“The perpetrators of these schemes have demanded payments from family members, claiming the monetary payments will cover processing and travel expenses needed to allow the children to be reunited with their families,” the FBI, along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection-South Texas Campaign stated in a news release.
“On July 18, 2014, San Antonio FBI learned of two similar fraud schemes which were carried out using telephone contact to reach their intended victims (the relatives of the unaccompanied children) located throughout the United States,” the FBI statement stated. “One fraud scheme involved individuals who claimed to be representing a charitable/non-profit organization, which reportedly assisted in processing and reuniting the children with their families.”
The FBI is investigating another case involving the possibility that some people have spoofing a phone number of a local San Antonio business organization “in an attempt to lend credibility to their claim.”
The FBI release indicated the amount of money being requested by the fraudulent characters range from about $300 to several thousand dollars. The San Antonio FBI field office is warning the public to be aware and very cautious about anyone requesting someone to make payments or fees “related to the processing, travel or reunification of unaccompanied children.”
The FBI provided the following tips that anyone you follow prior to providing money or donations to potential swindlers.
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials asking for payments or donations door-to-door, via phone, mail, e-mail, or social networking sites.
- Be skeptical of individuals requesting payment or contributions by courier or wire, or those who request your bank account or credit card number.
- Verify the legitimacy of the government agency or non-profit organization by utilizing various Internet-based resources which may confirm the correct phone number, e-mail, and/or the group’s existence and its non-profit status rather than following a purported link to an e-mailed site.
- Call the official telephone number of the government agency seeking/authorizing collection of the fees/costs to ensure the request for payment is legitimate.
- Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.
- Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of intended recipients in attached files which may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
- Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.
- Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who seeks payment or solicits contributions: Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.