Migrants and temporary visa holders are being warned about taking calls from scammers, purporting to be from the immigration department, who threaten them with deportation and demand money to avoid this.

Senior constable Kelly Innes, of Wyndham Crime Investigation Unit, said police are getting reports of Wyndham residents falling victim to the scam.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has also issued warnings about it after receiving 300 reports since March last year, with more than $150,000 reportedly handed over to scammers.

“Many scammers use Western Union transfers, as these are extremely difficult to trace,” Senior Constable Innes said. “Therefore, be very suspicious of any deals done via Western Union, unless you know and trust the person receiving the money at the other end.”

ACCC deputy chair Deila Rickard said the scammers often target migrants and temporary visa holders, claiming there are problems with their immigration paperwork or visa status.

The victim is then urged to pay a fee to correct the problem and avoid deportation.

“These scammers often glean personal information from social media, making demands seem more legitimate,” she said.

“Recently, these scams have been going one step further, threatening the arrest of loved one, or claiming they have already been arrested or detained. Scammers may try to pressure you by calling incessantly and harassing you, even threatening to send the police to your house.

“Simply hang up and do not respond. If you give your money to a scammer, you will never see it again,” Ms Rickard warned. “If in doubt, don’t use any contact details provided by the caller, instead look up the government department or organisation in the phone book or online, and phone or email them.”

Immigration and Border Protection never asks for money via wire transfers.