Scams Targeting International Students

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security continues to see an increase in the number of scams targeting unsuspecting international students.

They contact their targets in different ways, often by making threatening phone calls or leaving intimidating messages on social media.  Students should be aware that a government agency would never contact them by telephone to demand immediate payment and would never request that the student wire money for immediate payment.

More information can be found on the Study in the States website regarding scams targeting international students.

It is important to be aware of various scams that target international students. Please read below for recent scam reports.


A  scam was reported in April 2017 from the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General. Please see the press release for the details on this fraud alert.

Here are some of the details from that release: “The perpetrators of the scam represent themselves as employees with “U.S. Immigration” and can alter caller ID systems to make it appear that the call is coming from the DHS OIG Hotline telephone number (1-800-323-8603). The scammers demand to obtain or verify personally identifiable information from their victims through various tactics, including by telling individuals that they are the victims of identity theft. Many of the scammers reportedly have pronounced accents.

DHS OIG takes this matter very seriously. While we investigate the situation, we would like to remind the public that DHS OIG never uses its Hotline number to make outgoing calls — the phone line is only used to receive information from the public. Individuals should not answer calls purporting to be from 1-800-323-8603, and should never provide personal information during calls purporting to be from the DHS OIG Hotline.”

 

This is a scam that was reported in July of 2016, which has targeted students from China:

Here is how it works:

Student is approached by someone that agrees to pay a student’s tuition with a credit card.  The person asks them for their student system login information, makes a payment on their account, and sends them confirmation of the payment. In return, they ask the student to pay them via wire transfer minus a 5% discount giving the illusion the student is saving 5% on their tuition payment.  The original credit card payment made to the student’s account by the individual is later rejected by the credit card company as being fraudulent.  This leaves a balance due for the student and the money they wired is long gone.

 

This is a scam that was reported to UIS Police in June of 2015:

The UIS Police Department is reminding the campus community about fraudulent phone calls primarily targeting our international students.  Our Department has received more reports of International Students receiving phone calls where the caller asked for money or the student would be arrested and deported.  The caller identified himself as a Police Officer from the Internal Revenue Service.  The phone number the alleged officer called from is 1-800-829-1954, which is the IRS Refund Hotline.  Fortunately, the student did not send money and reported the incident because of the previous crime alerts put out by our Department.  The UIS Police Department continues to investigate these reports with the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies.  Since the first Crime Alert that we sent out, we do not have any reports of money being sent to the callers.   If you or someone you know has received a phone call from an individual claiming you have committed tax fraud, have incorrect immigration paperwork and face arrest/deportation if a fine (or deposit) is not paid immediately, please contact the UIS Police. Please do not send the caller money.  The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security do not make these type of phone calls.

For further information on avoiding scans and scam alerts, please see the following hyperlinks:

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – Avoid Scams

Illinois Attorney General’s Office – Immigrant Assistance Program

Federal Trade Commission Scam Alerts

Department of Homeland Security: Study in the States – Important Message to Students: Protect Yourself from Scams