International students should all be made aware of the recent trend in scams: Students being contacted by fraudsters who threaten them and ask for a sum of money.
According to a report from the National Centre for Campus Public Safety, one of the most common crimes affecting international students studying in the U.S is online fraud – as identified by a group of university and law enforcement officials.
Roopa Rawjee, assistant dean of students and director of international student services at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said: “Scams are becoming creative. Scammers are coming up with new ideas and quickly moving on.”
That is in fact the issue at hand – Even though online scams similar to ones students are targeted by have been popular for long, as times goes on, scams are only becoming more strategically thought-out.
Earlier this month, an international student at UW-Madison almost lost around $5,000 to scammers, says Marc Lovicott, director of communications for the UW-Madison Police Department.
The student had been trying to buy thousands of dollars worth of Google Play gift cards at a convenience store. Thankfully, the store clerk realised that something was not right and flagged a nearby university police officer. The student happened to be on the phone with a scammer who claimed she would be arrested if she did not pay off the arrest warrant with gift cards.
The police officer was quick to realise that the student was the victim of a common scam and proceeded to stop her from purchasing the cards, but not all students are so fortunate. The UW-Madison Police Department recommends that students file a report if they fall victim to a scam and lose money, but Lovicott says that retrieving those funds is very difficult and advises that students remember that government agencies and police departments will never demand money over the phone.
“We advise our students to scan their calls and either not answer calls from unknown numbers or to hang up immediately if it is someone they do not know,” says Rawjee.