International trips are supposed to end in happy reunions. But they don't always. Sometimes they end in a scam and the scam is there was never an international trip in the first place..
"They target anyone. Anyone and everyone that will answer the phone or an email." says Thomas Gonzales with Customs and Border Protection.
Here's how it works: The scammers randomly call people and pose as a relative having visa issues. They ask the person to wire some money to get it sorted out. Sometimes the scammers up the ante.
"They're posing sometimes as us, saying they're an officer from customs and border protection if you want your family member out send us "X" amount of money out." He says.
They whole thing is a fraud. There is no relative being detained and obviously they don't work for the federal government.. One scam actually involved siberian huskies supposedly in England. The scammers set up a fake website offering the dogs for $400. When the dog got to the U-S they needed more money to get it through customs. There was no problem in customs because here never was a dog.
So far they have two confirmed cases of this con game, but they're pretty sure there are more. They believe some victims are either too afraid or too embarrassed to come forward.
Authorities learned about the scam when people approached airport staff to complain. They realized something was amiss and notified law enforcement. So there's no telling how long this has been going on but there's a fear it could be about to get worse.
"Right now we're kind of ramping up to a peak time coming into the holidays so that would be especially important for us as that travel season starts again for the holidays." says Mark Bull, the assistant general manager for security at the airport.
Each year eight million people pass through Bush Intercontinental Airport. That's a lot of potential victims. If yiou suspect something is up call Customs and Border Protection at (281) 223-4200. If you are already at the airport, simply pick up one of the courtesy phones and call. You will NOT be bothering them and you might help catch the scammers...