Protect yourself: Top scams targeting Virginia Tech community
From: Virginia Tech Police Department
As students return to campus, the Virginia Tech Police Department urges vigilance against an uptick in fraudulent activities. Scammers are once again active, targeting our community with a variety of schemes. To safeguard yourself, stay informed about the prevalent scams and follow these guidelines.
Football ticket sales
Scammers commonly utilize unofficial Virginia Tech Groups such as “VT Class of 2027” on social media to fraudulently sell Virginia Tech Football tickets, utilizing a university-affiliated email address as a contact. Payment is typically requested upfront through an electronic payment service or app, and the money is taken without the shipment of the product purchased.
- Purchase tickets from official vendors. SeatGeek.com is the official ticketing partner of Virginia Tech Athletics.
- Know that there are very few “printed” tickets. Most tickets to Virginia Tech athletic events are electronic and must be transferred.
- Never post or share an image of your ticket, as it opens you up to fraud and copying.
Research assistant positions
Regarding jobs, students are commonly asked to send a resume or other personal information. Students report receiving electronic checks that they are asked to cash, while sending a percentage of that money back. The original check does not clear, and the student loses the money from their account. All correspondence pertaining to these scams are electronic, and the scammer will not meet in person, and adamantly avoids it.
- Never accept checks from persons or a business that you do not personally know, and never accept or cash checks that you are not expecting to receive.
- You should never give out personal identifying information over the telephone or the internet to anyone unless you are sure of who you are speaking to.
- If you ever have suspicions about a check or an unsolicited financial offer from a stranger, contact your bank or the bank who issued the check. If an unsolicited financial offer feels suspicious, it is usually a scam.
- You should be apprehensive of situations where someone overpays you by check and then asks you to wire money or utilize a prepaid card for payment.
This scam involves connecting online with an unknown or newly acquainted individual for an intimate conversation. Private photographs or videos are shared and/or recorded, sometimes without consent or awareness of the person who is being recorded. The scammer then blackmails the person by threatening to release the intimate material online unless they receive payment. In some cases, the payment only delays the release of this material, as the scammer will likely request additional payments to withhold the material.
- Never share intimate, personal images/video, especially with someone you have just met on the internet. Once the image/video is captured by the other party, you have no control on where it may be shared or how it could be used against you.
Unsolicited contact from a known associate, family member, or law enforcement
The scammer(s) will send what appears to be a legitimate email to the victim pretending to be a faculty member, fellow student, staff or faculty colleague of the victim. The scammer(s) will tell the victim that he/she cannot connect to the internet for some reason and will state that they need to send money to a family member or fellow student/colleague who is in dire need of the money. The scammer will then ask the victim to obtain either gift cards or utilize "steam wallet" (or other electronic means) to obtain cards, will ask the victim to take a photo of the bar code of the card(s), and send it to the scammer.
- If they have sent an email, they have accessed the internet. This is a clue.
- Check the email address closely. Scammers will often use similar emails and assume the receiver will not look closely. Example: firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you know this person, contact them to verify the request using contact information that you possess.
A similar scam involves receiving telephone calls from individuals claiming to be members of law enforcement or another government agency. Many of these scammers utilize “spoofed” phone numbers that come back listed to the government agency with which the caller claims to be affiliated. These numbers are easily found on the internet and are used to falsify the number on the Caller ID to hide the caller’s true identity. During these calls, the victims are told that they owe the government money and, if they are unable to pay the amount while still on the phone, they will be arrested. The callers then instruct the victims to purchase various gift cards and provide the numbers to them. After obtaining the gift card numbers, the callers usually hang up without giving any further instructions.
- No law enforcement or other government agency in the United States, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), will ever call you on the phone and threaten you with arrest if you do not immediately send them money, provide them with the number of a gift card, or transfer money into a bitcoin account.
- If you are unsure of who you are talking with, ask for contact information and advise you will call back. Compare names and phone numbers if they are provided with publicly available information for the agency being represented.
Scammers frequently employ aggressive tactics and urgency to manipulate victims. Protect yourself by staying informed about common scams affecting the Virginia Tech community. Find more safety tips and information at https://police.vt.edu/safety-security/safety-tips.html. To verify suspicious contacts or potential scams, reach out to the Virginia Tech Police Department at 540-382-4343 or email email@example.com.
For your safety and security, remain cautious and informed about ongoing scams within the community.