The Immigrant Council of Ireland confirmed that on two separate days since the beginning of last week, members of the public have been contacted by people pretending to be ICI staff.
On the first day, March 8, callers were requested to make donations to the charity.
Anyone with a missed call discovered that it was from the actual ICI phone number, even though the Immigrant Council had nothing to do with the calls. Some people who had missed calls contacted the ICI switchboard, alerting the organisation to the scam.
The calls then stopped, but resumed on Tuesday of this week, when, once again, people were contacted by scammers purporting to be from the Immigrant Council, only this time looking for money to prevent deportations.
That approach echoes a warning first issued last November, and repeated a number of times since, by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS), the state agency responsible for issues that include citizenship, repatriation, and asylum. The INIS contact page currently has a warning: “Warning about ‘deportation orders’ by telephone. Some people are being called by phone and told they must pay money to prevent deportation. (Numbers may be prefixed 062 XXX XXXX and appear to be from ‘INIS Citizenship’.) This is an attempt at fraud. INIS never asks for payment by telephone. If you receive a telephone call like this, ignore it.” One INIS phone number is 062-32500.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice did not specify whether people facing deportation had been directly targeted, but said the scam was brought to the Department’s attention by An Garda Síochána, last November, prompting the first notice to be published on the INIS website shortly afterwards.
It is understood the Immigrant Council contacted gardaí in Pearse St, in Dublin, after being told of the first batch of rogue calls last week, and when the calls resumed, this week, made fresh contact with investigators.
The ICI had been in the news last week, after its legal mission visited the refugee camps in Calais.
Brian Killoran, the chief executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said: “We are very concerned at an attempt to defraud the generosity of people across Ireland at the expense of men, women, and children fleeing war and terror.
“The Immigrant Council of Ireland never seeks donations by phone, and never charges clients for use of its services. Anyone contacted by phone, seeking same, should immediately contact gardaí, who are investigating this scam as an act of fraud.
“Those behind this crime have shown their callousness, by timing their activity to coincide with a legal mission we have mounted to support people trapped in a desperate situation, in refugee camps in Northern France. Anyone wishing to support those efforts can do so through our website, on Facebook, or by posting a cheque to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.”