02 Dec Beware of fraudulent I-9 emails
An announcement by the USCIS has let the surprisingly rapid output of all new scam targeting employers.
Shortly after the feds announced that they would be ramping up I-9 audits, a rash of fraudulent emails began to appear in the inboxes of various companies.
Well designed and containing actual data, these emails are designed to be as convincing as possible, and have already fooled quite a few people.
The most impressive part of the scam is how the emails come from a uscis.gov address, greatly enhancing its apparent authenticity. Said authenticity gets shut down quite brutally, however, by the fact that the USCIS has made it abundantly clear it’s not sending any emails to employers about their I-9s. It’s also warning firms not to click on any links in the email or respond to the sender.
Employers may also be tripped up because the feds recently announced they are ramping up I-9 audits, and firms want to respond as quickly as possible to any I-9-related requests. Again, the USCIS will never email about an I-9 audit.
Audits of I-9’s are conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Department of Labor and notification of an upcoming audit is always done by a written notice from the agency. USCIS never requires employers to submit Forms I-9 to USCIS unless they are being audited, and never requires an employer to email copies to them. At this time, the Officials will choose where they will conduct a Form I-9 inspection. For example, officials may ask that an employer bring Form I-9’s to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office. Sometimes, employers may arrange for an inspection at the location where the forms are stored.
From the USCIS webpage,
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has learned that employers have received scam emails requesting Form I-9 information that appear to come from USCIS. Employers are not required to submit Forms I-9 to USCIS.
Employers must have a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for every person on their payroll who is required to complete Form I-9. All of these forms must be retained for a certain period of time. Visit I-9 Central to learn more about retention, storage and inspections for Form I-9.
These scam emails come from a fraudulent email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is not a USCIS email address. The body of the email may contain USCIS and Office of the Inspector General labels, your address and a fraudulent download button that links to a non-government web address (uscis-online.org). Do not respond to these emails or click the links in them.
If you believe that you received a scam email requesting Form I-9 information from USCIS, report it to the Federal Trade Commission. If you are not sure if it is a scam, forward the suspicious email to the USCIS webmaster. USCIS will review the emails received and share with law enforcement agencies as appropriate. Visit the Avoid Scams Initiative for more information on common scams and other important tips.