Indian Embassy telephone lines have been spoofed by fraudsters in the US to cheat people for money, according to an advisory issued by the mission which warned against entertaining any suspicious calls.
The Indian Embassy in Washington has informed the US government about it and launched its own internal investigation. It also issued a rare public advisory on such fraud calls that has cheated people with money.
“These fraudsters either seek personal information like credit card details etc. or try to extort money from Indian nationals by inter alia claiming that there are errors in their passports, visa forms, immigration forms etc. which could be rectified by paying money, and at the same time warning that the so called errors, if not rectified, could result in deportation of the individual to India or their imprisonment in USA,” the Indian Embassy said in its advisory.
Some of the Indian nationals living in the US, who received such call, brought to the notice of the Embassy that some fraudsters are spoofing Embassy of India telephone lines to make calls aimed at cheating people.
Some of these calls are shown as being from the Embassy telephone numbers while others simply use Embassy identity.
In some cases, these fraudsters also claimed that they received such information from the Embassy or other authorities in India. Visa applicants have also received such calls purporting to be from the Embassy.
The Indian Embassy has started collecting information from the public, including details of the Western Union account number or bank account details where the money was transferred.
In its advisory, the Indian Embassy said none of its officials make any telephone calls seeking personal information from any Indian or foreign nationals.
In case of any additional documentation is required from an existing applicant, it is sought only through emails originating from the official domain, it said.
It urged people living in the US not to entertain any suspicious telephone calls made in the name of Embassy of India. It also advised people not to reveal any personal information or transfer any money in response to such calls.
This is for the first time probably that fraudsters have been spoofing Indian Embassy phone numbers.
According to informed US government officials, in the past they have received similar complaints from other diplomatic missions as well, in particular those from the European nations.
Officials said while the spoofing technology is easily available, it is tough to get to the origin of such phone calls. Americans have been frequent victims of such phone calls -from call centres in India - on behalf of the US Internal Revenue Service. In several joint operations in the last one year, Indian authorities have arrested scores of people making such fraud calls.