Con artists often regard students as easy targets. Every student should be aware of these scams and how to avoid them.
Many people have been scammed by door-to-door sales people. The most common of these scams involves the selling of magazines or other publications. Frequently, young people, often the same age as college students, are used to perpetrate these scams. They appear on campuses and enter residence halls trying to connect with students. They use a number of stories to get students to subscribe. Some of these stories include that they need the sales to win a scholarship or a trip to Disney World. There have even been reports of these individuals telling students that they have a terminal illness and are trying to sell as many subscriptions so as to win something before they die. They almost always ask the students to pay for their subscription in cash and use the argument that they do not have a local bank account.
To help protect you from this type of scam, remember these tips:
1. Door-to-door solicitation on campus is prohibited.
2. Call the police department at 828.227.7301 if you encounter a door-to-door sales person. While some students may be reluctant to call, it is important to remember that you are doing this to protect yourself and other students. If the sales person is legitimate, they will simply be asked to leave campus since solicitation is prohibited. However, if the person is committing a crime, they will be investigated by police.
Contest winner scams are those scams where a person is informed by e-mail, letter, or telephone call that they have won a contest. However, the person is told that in order to collect their prize, they must put up a deposit. Legitimate contests do not cost. Do not give or send money to anyone who informs you that you must do this in order to collect your prize.
If the person who tells you that you must pay in order to receive your prize contacts you in-person on campus, call the police department at 828.227.7301. It is important that the police have the opportunity to investigate the person as he or she may be scamming other students.
The most common form on online scams originates in the country of Nigeria. The Nigerian letter scam has been around for decades. Sometimes called the “advanced fee scheme” or the “4-1-9” fraud (after the section of the Nigerian penal code that addresses fraud), it is circulated by e-mail, letter, or fax. The scam often comes from someone claiming to be an official in a foreign country who has to move a large sum of money out of the country to an American bank and needs the victim’s help. In return, the sender offers to give the victim a percentage—often as much as 20 to 30 percent—but he or she needs the victim’s bank information in order to transfer the money. If the victim responds to the offer, the scam is concluded over the telephone. Once the victim provides their bank information, the victim is told that he or she must pay for fees, bribes, taxes, legal expenses, and so forth before the money can be released. Of course, the victim never sees any of the money.
Since most of these scams originate outside of the United States, there is little that the police department can do other than encourage students to be aware of these scams. If a student is unfortunately victimized by one of these scams, the crime needs to be reported to the United States Secret Service.
For more information on how to protect yourself from scams, please contact Services Sgt. Tammy Ammons-Hagberg, Victims Services and Crime Prevention Coordinator at 828.227.3059 or email@example.com.