URBANA, Ill. – University of Illinois students have been the target of various scams sweeping across the campus resulting in victims losing a total of $234,806 since January 3rd, according to reports from the University of Illinois Police.
The scammers have been preying on international students, who are more susceptible due to language and cultural barriers. At least 10 incidents have been reported, with one student alone losing $213,563 after receiving a call from an unknown person claiming that the student was wanted on a Chinese arrest warrant related to international money laundering. Several subsequent callers made demands for money, claiming that payment would resolve the matter. The student complied each time.
Scammers have been using a variety of methods, including phone and internet scams. They may use empty threats of arrest or deportation or demand payment in the form of virtual currency or gift cards. In some cases, scammers direct victims to visit a series of banks to withdraw cash, often in small amounts. They may also “spoof” phone numbers of legitimate agencies to make their calls seem authentic.
The University of Illinois Police Department has warned students to hang up immediately and call them at 217-333-1216 or email email@example.com if they encounter any of these red flags. To better inform students about what to watch out for, the department has posted a scam log, which includes sexual extortion, fake art projects, compromised credit cards, and dating app extortion.
In one case, an unknown person contacted a student through social media and encouraged them to send intimate photos of themselves. The offender then threatened to send those photos to the student’s social media contacts unless they paid a certain amount. Some students complied, while others refused and contacted the police.
Students are urged to be aware of these scams and report any suspicious activity immediately.