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University police have recently had reports of international students being targeted by scam attempts related to advertisements that the students have posted regarding rooms or apartments for rent, or items for sale.
Typically, the scammer asks for pictures of the room or item and will agree to the sale, and then either request banking information or send the seller a check. The check is often for an amount significantly over the cost of the item and will include instructions for the seller to wire the excess amount. About three days after the check clears the banking system, the seller will be notified that the check deposited was counterfeit.
The request for financial information can be used in two ways. First way, the criminal simply empties the account through fraudulent wire transfers. Second way, they use an account to put the account information on the bottom of counterfeit checks and then use those counterfeit checks to make fraudulent purchases.
People advertising items for sale or rooms for rent should be aware that there is no verification process when using email associated with Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo Mail. Any emails received from those sites should be scrutinized. Additionally, texted phone numbers from out of state should be scrutinized.
Students should be aware that the Internal Revenue Service or a utilities service company will not contact their customers reporting past debt and requesting immediate repayment via pre-paid debit card. Past due debt will typically be reflected in several mailings and not in an email or phone call.
Often fraud has two distinct characteristics – it’s instantaneous and anonymous. The fraudster wants you to send money quickly and to not tell anyone that you sent money. Students should contact campus police with any questions or to report any fraudulent attempts by calling 341-4300.