Immigrant community warns about phone scams

Bhakta Ghaley (left) lost more than $900 to a phone scam. The caller spoke to him in Nepali, his native language.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Bhakta Ghaley makes $9 an hour, and supports his parents who recently moved here from Bhutan.

So when he got a call that he’d won nearly $10,000, he was ready to do whatever it took to get it.

“That’s a lot of money to me,” he said.

“I have to pay car insurance, car loan, every electricity bill, rent, because nobody can help me.”

The caller spoke Nepali, Ghaley’s native language.

He told News 4 when he heard that, he felt the man could be trusted.

To claim his prize, he just needed to send some money for taxes.

Assuming he was within reach of a major payday, Ghaley sent two Western Union money orders to the scammers, totaling more than $900.

One of them was to an address in Florida, the other was to Mississippi; both were cashed immediately, but the prize was never sent.

“He has limited English and he doesn’t know the law or the system of American government of what they do here,” said Kaji Sunwar, Ghaley’s friend.

Sunwar has been in Buffalo for about eight years, and owns a store on Grant Street.

When he heard what happened, he knew right away it was a scam.

When the two tried to call the scammer back, they were repeatedly hung up on.

Sunwar told News 4 being scammed isn’t something most immigrants expect, and this has happened to others in Buffalo.

“They have been getting calls from IRS, saying that they are IRS people and they owe some money to IRS and they’re telling them, they scare them and they try to, you know, take the money,” Sunwar told News 4.

The FBI keeps track of thousands of scams through the Internet Crime Complaint Center, but they told News 4 most victims don’t file a complaint.

According to the BBB, tax related scams were the most popular form of phone scams in 2015.

Authorities say some scammers are also known to pretend to be government officials, and claim if they’re not paid, the victim risks deportation; a threat aimed at new immigrants.

A sure way to avoid losing money is to never send anything to someone you don’t know personally, and if it seems too good to be true, it is.

Experts also warn that you can’t win a contest you didn’t enter.

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