Fraud and Misconduct

All services provided by UNHCR and partners are free of charge.

What is fraud?

Fraud is any act or omission that intentionally misleads UNHCR, its partners, and/or refugees in an attempt to obtain a benefit. In other words, it is the act of not telling the truth (or the full truth) so that you can get something in return for yourself or another person. Not telling the truth about your identity can also amount to fraud.  

Examples of fraud include, but are not limited to: 

  • Providing false information about your or another person’s personal circumstances to benefit from assistance or service. 
  • Using another person’s identity to register with UNHCR. 
  • Falsely claiming to represent UNHCR or other organisations or persons associated with UNHCR and/or charging money for an asylum-seeker or refugee to benefit from assistance or service (e.g. registration, documentation, RSD, resettlement). 
  • Using fraudulent documentation or genuine documents in a false manner.

What is corruption?

Offering, giving, receiving or soliciting (directly or indirectly) anything of value to influence improperly the actions of another party.

What is misconduct?

Misconduct is considered any failure by a UNHCR staff member, partner and/or service provider to abide by established staff rules and regulations and the UNHCR Code of Conduct. 

Misconduct includes fraud, corruption, sexual exploitation, and abuse. Some examples of misconduct by UNHCR or partner staff include: 

  • asking for money or favours in exchange for any services or assistance (such as financial assistance, health support); 
  • asking for money or favours in exchange for benefits with a UNHCR process such as registration, RSD or resettlement; 
  • falsifying a document for you to receive a benefit; 
  • committing any kind of sexual abuse or exploitation against an asylum-seeker or refugee; 
  • physically hurting or threatening another person; or 
  • Sharing personal information without your consent with an external person or organization.

What is sexual exploitation and abuse?

Sexual exploitation is any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including but not only, by offering money or other social, economic or political advantages. It includes trafficking and prostitution. 

Sexual abuse is actual or threatened sexual activity carried out by force or under unequal or coercive conditions. It includes sexual slavery, pornography, child abuse and sexual assault. 

UNHCR has a zero-tolerance policy against sexual exploitation and abuse. It is considered serious misconduct and all UNHCR staff are strictly prohibited from engaging in such behavior.

What can I do to make sure that I do not become a victim of fraud?

Remember that all services and assistance provided by UNHCR and its partners are always free of charge. Do not trust anyone or any organization asking you to pay money. You cannot pay to receive quicker services from UNHCR or its partners.  

If money or any other form of favour, including of a sexual nature, is requested from you in exchange for UNHCR services, do not believe them and report it to UNHCR immediately. 

Do not share your personal data and documentation, including passport, national identity documents, or other documents you receive from UNHCR with anyone except UNHCR and its partners.

How do fraudsters operate?

Fraudsters may promise to offer you access (or quicker access) to registration, RSD, resettlement, financial or other kinds of assistance, UNHCR documents or fake claims in exchange for money or other favours, including of a sexual nature. If any money or other favour is asked, this is fraud! 

These offers may be made to you in person, by phone or via social media, including Facebook, YouTube, or WhatsApp. 

Sometimes fraudsters impersonate and pretend to represent UNHCR to gain your trust. They may show you information to persuade you that they are connected to UNHCR. 

People who tell you such lies are seeking to take advantage of your situation. Avoid them and do not believe them. Those persons are only after your money. Be alert and don’t get cheated. 

Always remember that all services and assistance provided by UNHCR and its partners are free of charge! If any money or other favour is asked, this is fraud! 

What are the consequences if I commit fraud?

Knowingly telling UNHCR incorrect information or failing to correct incorrect information once you learn that it is false, may be considered fraud. You have a duty to provide truthful and complete information and to report any change in your situation. 

If you fail to provide truthful information, including by misrepresenting or concealing facts, in order to mislead UNHCR or its partners, then you may potentially face the following serious consequences: 

  • Ineligibility for protection, assistance, benefits, or services, including financial assistance and resettlement; 
  • Recording of any fraud allegations on your file; 
  • Significant delays in your case which will be put on hold for the time of the investigation of the fraud allegation; 
  • Disclosure of the alleged or confirmed fraud to resettlement countries; 
  • Referral of suspected involvement in criminal activities to the competent national authorities. 

How can I report fraud committed by refugees or others to UNHCR?

Please immediately send an email to UNHCR via [email protected]. You may also raise any fraud suspicion during any of your interactions with UNHCR or its partners, whether in calls, counselling appointments, or during interviews.

What should I do if I notice fraud or other forms of misconduct committed by UNHCR staff or staff of UNHCR’s partners?

If you have information that a UNHCR staff member, or a staff member of a UNHCR partner, is involved in fraud, corruption, or any form of misconduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse, please report it immediately to UNHCR’s Inspector-General’s Office (IGO) at its headquarters: 

How does the IGO deal with my complaint once I submit it?

UNHCR takes all complaints seriously and follows up on each individually. 

Please note that all communication with UNHCR is kept confidential. 

Filing a complaint will not in any way impact your case with UNHCR. 

In your complaint, please provide all facts and evidence known to you. 

If you provide your contact details, we will be able to follow up with you on your complaint. Complaints may also be made anonymously. 

Click here to know more information on what will happen with every case reported to IGO.