All articles

Immigration scams on the rise in the UK

Immigration and visa scams are on the rise in the UK. 

That was one of the findings from Hiya’s Q4 2023 Global Call Threat Report, which tracks spam and fraud rates in 39 countries worldwide.

Immigration scams are nothing new. In earlier blog posts, we’ve written about Chinese-language scams targeting Chinese immigrants in Canada and scams targeting Spanish-speaking immigrants in the US. Phone scammers love to target vulnerable populations such as immigrants because they are typically less familiar with how government officials operate in their new country, and they tend to comply when threatened by something that might jeopardize their immigration status.

As seen in the graph below, a year ago, immigration scams in the UK  barely registered in Hiya’s data. Then, they picked up a bit in September and November 2023, then surged late in the year, in December 2023 and January 2024. 


Immigration scams in the UK@2x

Immigration scams in the UK surged in December 2023 and January 2024. 

What Hiya users are reporting in the UK

Consumers using Hiya Protect through their device manufacturer or the Hiya mobile app can tap a prompt on their handset to report fraud and nuisance calls and leave a comment about the call. Here are some of the comments we’ve received from users in the UK.  

“Claims to be the Department of Immigration telling me that there is a problem with my visa and I need to pay.”

“Called saying they are from Immigration Bureau, which the UK doesn't have. Press 1 for English and 2 for Chinese. Then spoken in Chinese.”  

“Asking for bank account details and claiming to be immigration and police.”

“Caller stated he was from Immigration Control in London, and that I had urgent documents to collect. Wanted me to travel to London to collect them.”

“Mobile phone claiming to be an immigration office of China stating it hasn't received my paperwork. I'm born and raised in the UK.”

Although these immigration scams cast a wide net, hoping to con immigrants from any country, many users reported that the robocall was in English and Chinese — or Chinese only. Other users noted that the robocall they received had an American accent or referred to an immigration agency that doesn’t exist in the UK. Perhaps the scammers are using the same robocall across multiple countries. 

Visa scams target skilled workers and refugees

News reports tell of other immigration scams in the UK. One scam targets Nigerians who are promised skilled worker permits in the UK. After paying up to £10,000 to an agent in their home country, they arrive at UK airports only to find that the skilled worker job they were promised never existed.   

Another scam targets Ukrainian refugees who are promised sponsor families in the UK through the Homes for Ukraine program. After paying hundreds of pounds for travel documents and visas, they arrive in the UK only to discover the documents and sponsor families are fake. According to The Independent, “The visas are impossible to identify as fraudulent by sight, meaning that Ukrainians are permitted to travel by airline staff, only to be told by Border Force that their documents are not valid.”

Learn more about phone scams in the UK

Want to learn more about phone scams in the UK? Download Hiya’s Global Call Threat Report.

The Q4 2023 report reveals that Brits receive an average of 4 spam calls per person per month. Of those unwanted calls, 25% are nuisance, and 3% are suspected fraud. The most common phone scams in the UK in Q4 were:

The Q4 2023 Global Call Threat Report reveals that Brits receive an average of 4 spam calls per person per month, of which 28% are suspected spam.  

The Global Call Threat Report breaks down spam and fraud rates by region, including Europe, the Americas, and Asia-Pacific. It also highlights the most common scam calls in the UK, US, Canada, Spain, France, Germany, and Brazil.

You can download the report by clicking below.

LinkedIn-Post-Graphic (4)


Author Andrea Moreno

Carrier Customer Marketing Manager