Boston University Community: Fraud Alert

Date:  September 16, 2021

Please find information below regarding recent fraudulent activity that has occurred on the Charles River Campus.

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Summary of Incidents: There have been four reported incidents in our community since September 6, 2021, starting with the most recent incident below:

Incident #1  09/15/2021Student first received a telephone call from an unknown individual who purported to be a Chinese Government official. The person accused the student of being involved in a crime and used an elaborate ruse which led to video conferencing calls showing individuals in official looking uniforms and using caller ID information that replicated actual Embassy telephone numbers. The suspects told the student the only way to resolve the issue was to wire money to an overseas location. The student wired $150,000.00 in several installments before contacting BUPD.

Incident #2  09/14/2021 – Student received a telephone call from an unknown individual who purported to be a Chinese Government Official. The person accused the student of being involved in a crime. The suspects told the student the only way to resolve the issue was to wire money to an overseas location. The student wired $25,000.00 overseas before contacting BUPD.

Incident #3  09/13/2021 – BU student received an email, which appeared to be from Walmart regarding a job offer. The victim began correspondence via text messaging with the person . Student then was sent a check in the amount of $2800.00. The student was asked to obtain a total of $2500 in money orders, send them to the suspects and keep the remaining money as their pay. The victim forwarded the money orders and found the check did not clear.

Incident #4  09/06/2021 – BU student was contacted by phone by an unknown person claiming to be from Amazon Services. A person told the student that if they sent $900.00. via a payment app, they would receive back $1800 for work as a “secret shopper.” The victim forwarded $900. to the suspects and no money was returned to the student victim.

Advice: We urge all members of our community to be vigilant against theft and fraud. Please take a moment to consider the possibility that a situation may be a scam or a fraud.

Some schemes are designed to capitalize on a fear of not cooperating with government authorities and many seem to target the Asian community. We remind students that they should not enter into any financial transactions with unknown people online. If you find yourself in a potential fraud situation, here are some useful tips provided to consumers by the Federal Trade Commission:

  1. Spot imposters. Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity, or a company you do business with. Do not send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request — whether it comes as a text, a phone call, or an email.
  2. Do online searches. Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “IRS call.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
  3. Don’t believe your caller ID. Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
  4. Don’t pay upfront for a promise. Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. They might even say you’ve won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear.
  5. Consider how you pay. Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don’t. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true cards (like MoneyPak or Reloadit) and gift cards (like iTunes or Google Play). Government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods.
  6. Talk to someone. Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert — or just tell a friend.
  7. Hang up on robocalls. If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report it to the FTC. These calls are illegal, and often the products are bogus. Don’t press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That could lead to more calls.
  8. Be skeptical about free trial offers. Some companies use free trials to sign you up for products and bill you every month until you cancel. Before you agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don’t recognize.
  9. Don’t deposit a check and wire money back. By law, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for repaying the bank.
  10. Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC at gov/scams. Get the latest tips and advice about scams sent right to your inbox.
  11. Never Rent Without Taking a Look at the Actual Premises. Always sign a written lease which identifies the owner before sending money to hold an apartment.

    If you are unsure if a communication is a fraud you may call the BUPD for advice anytime by calling 617-353-2121 or by emailing You can also reach us by texting the word ‘BU’ to (847411). The Boston University Police Department welcomes your messages and inquiries at any time of day or night. You may also report phishing and potentially fraudulent emails to Examples of phishing messages can be found at the BU Information Security’s Phish Bowl site. Please note that the University will never ask you for your password or to “click a link to verify your email address or identity” no matter how convincing the email may appear.

    The following is provided as a further reminder to our BU Community:

    Risk reduction/Safety precautions:

    • If you do not feel comfortable intervening in any situation, notify someone BU Police at the numbers below or 911..
    • Program your cell phone with the BU Police emergency number 617-353-2121. Call this number if you become uncomfortable in any situation on or near the BU Charles River, Fenway or Medical Campus. We are ready to respond to your calls 24 hours a day 7 days a week. If you are off campus call 9-1-1.
    • Text BUPD anonymously by texting “BU” to 847411.
    • If you feel threatened on campus, look for a Blue Light emergency telephone or dial 3-2121 from any on campus telephone.
    • Utilize Scarlet Safe Walk 617-353-4877 or public transportation.
    • Be aware of your surroundings.
    • Trust your intuition – if a situation makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, get away or call for help.

    Issued by:

    Boston University Police Department | 32 Harry Agganis Way Boston, MA 02215



    This notice is a timely warning message. Boston University Police has information to share about a recurring crime on campus.  

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