The scam call came from a phone number written on the website of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. According to them, they tried contacting me through the mail and did not hear back from me. They accused me of changing my address without informing the U.S. government. They also threatened me with deportation because they claimed, I did not update one of the immigration documents, which of course was false. I was terrified because I had just applied for my Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card using the updated address, and I was expecting to hear back from US Citizenship and Immigration Services(USCIS).
Me with YOUNFI team and participants.
The scammers had a lot of my personal information, which led me to believe that their threat was legitimate. They convinced me that I could not talk to anyone or be near any electronic devices. Horrifyingly, they somehow were able to monitor me through my phone so I had to get away from any electronic device. I was on the phone with them for almost 5 hours. They threatened to put me in jail for four weeks and deport me for the alleged “violations” unless I paid them $1515 as collateral. They promised to give me back the money after they conduct a background check on me in Bangladesh.
The only way I could pay them was by using half of the fellowship money that I received from Bryn Mawr College to run my organization, YOUNFI (www.younifi.org/beta). I started this organization while I was a first-year student at Bryn Mawr and have spent significant time on it to establish it. YOUNIFI is an organization in Bangladesh that connects nonprofit organizations and students based on skills, interests and mutual needs.
I was really afraid, so I agreed, and I followed their instructions on how to send them money. They asked me to go to the nearest bank to withdraw money, which I did. Subsequently, they asked me to go to the nearest Target to purchase $1515 worth of iTunes gift cards, which I did. They then asked me to give them the number on the back of the iTunes gift cards, and I followed their demands.
I come from a working class family, so this amount of money is really significant for me. I am still looking for a job, and I am surviving on the little money my parents could afford to send me. Furthermore, I do not have any family in the U.S. If I had enough money, I would have been able to replace it with my organization’s fund. I am trying to raise more awareness about this type of scamming hoping that fewer people have to go through this experience. I have filed a report with the police and have talked with the international student counselor at Bryn Mawr.
The money raised through this campaign will be used for operations of YOUNIFI. We recently finished building the website, and YOUNFI is at a very critical place of marketing its services to organizations and students.
Participants finishing project at a YOUNFI event.
I am asking for $1700 as I have to cover for GoFundMe fees. Thank you so much for your support! I would be happy to answer any questions you have.
- Patti Tichenor
- Hanna Fields
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