UIS students targeted by fraud

Police Department warns of new threats

John Kurecki, Features Reporter

The UIS Police Department has made students aware of another instance of fraud targeting UIS. This alert comes on the heels of another incident at the end of last semester.

Scams targeting UIS students this year include a fraudulent job posting on Career Connect, wherein students are pressured to cash bad checks, and callers claiming to work with the United States government, demanding international students pay a hefty fine to avoid deportation.

False or misleading job postings are a present danger to students, who often look to their university’s job posting service for ways to get work experience and some form of income during the school year. Malicious individuals can take advantage of these desires.

Rutgers University gives an overview on how to recognize these fake postings, saying to avoid jobs if you are asked to make any type of payment, if you are asked to provide any kind of banking information, or if you cannot find information about the employer, among many other potential red flags.

The newest incident involves a posting that a UIS police bulletin states that, while one student received the bad check, they did not cash it.

The Police Department writes, “After applying for the position, emails are sent to the applicant requesting the applicant assist with volunteer work at orphanages.” The applicant is then sent a check, and “is to keep $600 and send the remaining balance to the receivers’ names at specified orphanages in New York.”

Students were targeted by another malicious scheme at the end of the spring 2015 semester as well. Threatening individuals, asserting that they were federal agents, contacted numerous international students on campus.

The UIS Police Department reported that a caller, claiming to work with the IRS, “stated the student was within violation of federal tax laws for not claiming money she has received from outside the United States. The caller stated that the student needed to make a payment within the next [ten] minutes or the police would arrest the student on the warrant that has been issued.”

While this particular case did not result in damages, one student was convinced to wire $1,600 before they contacted the UIS Police Department.

This is a common tactic, both around the United States and the world. Many schools have standing warnings to students about these threats, such as one from the UK Council for International Student Affairs, which states “The caller will speak in dramatic terms, perhaps talking about deportation or cancelling your visa. This is a common fraudster’s technique, to make you panic and become pressured into paying the fake fine.”

Lieutenant Brad Strickler with the UIS Police Department pointed out why these students may be targeted, claiming, “[International students] may be less familiar with the laws and processes of this country. When someone calls and says they are from the [Internal Revenue Service (IRS)] and threatens to arrest and deport an international student, this can scare the student and panic sets in.”

Lieutenant Strickler believes this should indicate that the call is fake, arguing, “The IRS does not do these things. An international student may think that is the procedure for the IRS and will comply with their demands.”

Unfortunately, these cases can be quite challenging to address for the police. Even when the UIS Police Department can track down the perpetrator, they have so far been unable to take any concrete action.

According to Strickler, “Some of the fraud investigations are very difficult because they can involve many different law enforcement agencies here in the U.S. and abroad. A few of the investigations we have done were turned over to federal agencies because we were able to determine the origin of the frauds to other countries.”

“If anyone in the UIS community believes they may be the target of a scam, they should contact the UIS Police Department immediately,” Strickler advised. “They can either come to the Police Department or call the non-emergency number at 217-206-690.”