Information from the Department of Public Safety - Crime Prevention Unit

SCAMS TARGETING COLLEGE STUDENTS

Scammers have increasingly been targeting college students, often modifying existing fraud schemes and tailoring them toward college students. Students’ recent independence, and fewer life experiences can leave them susceptible to scammers’ tactics, defrauding even the brightest students. Most scams are easily detectable, however scammers can pose as authority figures of some type and are able to swindle them by arming themselves with information about the person which lends credence to their statements.

An enticing scam targeted towards college students promises a 5% reduction on tuition payments for students who use a third party service to process the payments to the college or university. The scammer makes tuition payment to a student’s account, which is verified by logging into the university online portal. Once the student confirms the payment has been made, the student will reimburse the scammers. When the education institution later processes the payments, the transactions are declined because the scammers used stolen credit cards to make these payments which result in a charge back to the students account. As a result many victims are unable to pay tuition, having lost their savings to the scammers.

April is fast approaching and law enforcement usually see a huge increase in tax scams as well.  Scammers will try anything to get your money and/or information.

Most Recent Scam

The most recent scam is an Employment & Money-Forwarding Scam. In Jan 2017, the FBI reported that college students were recently targeted in an employment-related and money forwarding/processing fraud scheme. The con artists advertise fraudulent job opportunities, often administrative work-from-home type positions.  The victim/employee is advised that they will begin receiving checks or money orders and instructed to deposit the checks into their personal checking account, retain a portion of the money and then forward the remaining money to another individual. The initial check never clears and the victim/employee has now lost their own savings.

How to Minimize Becoming the Victim of a Scam:

- Be suspicious of any stranger calling or emailing, and asking for money.

- Safeguard your personal information and take recommended measures to prevent identity theft.

- Never provide personally identifiable information such as your social security numbers, birth date, credit card numbers or address.

- Do not wire money to unknown individuals.

- Never accept a job that requires depositing checks into your account or wiring portions to other individuals.

- Be aware that the IRS will never call you to demand immediate payment and will never call about taxes without having first mailed a paper version of the bill.

- The IRS will never require a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card and will never request credit card numbers or debit card numbers over the phone.

- The IRS will never threaten for local police, or any other law enforcement agency to arrest you for non-payment.

If You Have been the Victim of a Scam:

- Contact the Brown Department of Public Safety (DPS) at  (401) 863-3322 (non-emergency line) to report the incident.  Save any related correspondence or voicemails.

For more information, please contact Officer Kelly Mitchell at (401)863-9637.