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Phone, tuition scams bilk UCSD community out of more than $200K

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Posted at 5:43 PM, Sep 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-24 20:43:36-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Phone and tuition scams have stole more than $200,000 from the UCSD community since July, university police warn.

Police say in just two months, victims within the university community have collectively lost $212,000 to suspects claiming they were with law enforcement in their home country. The scammers would demand money or threaten the victims with detention.

In the case of phone scams, scammers would call and pose as an IRA employee or officer claiming to have an open case or, for international students, law enforcement of their home country. The suspect than threaten to imprison the victim unless they provide their Social Security Number and send funds to confirm their identity.

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IRS and police will never ask for any form of payment to avoid an arrest, police say. International students should refer to their local consulate for any type of government communications.

When it comes to reported tuition scams, police say scammers have been targeting students with promises of tuition reduction if they use a third-party service to pay their fees. Scammers often promise a 5% tuition discount and request the victims send the reduced tuition funds.

The scammers then request the victim's university credentials to pay their tuition with fraudulent or stolen credit card info. But by the time credit card companies receive the information that the the payment was fraudulent, the scammers have already withdrawn the victims' funds.

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Victims are then left out of the money paid to scammers and still paying their own tuition.

Police say students should never give out their personal information to anyone and work through UC San Diego-approved payment methods. Police add that any requests for funds through Bitcoin, wire transfer, or pre-paid cards are most likely scams.

Any instances of scams should be reported to university police at 858-534-4357.