URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The new year did not bring an end to University of Illinois students being scammed over the phone, as U of I Police report the first scams they’ve become aware of in 2023.

U of I Police included four scams in a pair of crime reports released on Tuesday and Wednesday. Three of the scams happened in December and were only just reported to police after the new year while the third happened on Tuesday.

The first scam happened on Dec. 14. A student reported that he attempted to purchase graduation tickets from an unknown person he met through social media, using a banking app to transfer $30. He received a text message saying the transaction had failed and tried again four more times, receiving the same message every time. He then sent $29 through a different banking app, but never heard from the purported seller nor received the tickets. The student later learned that the phone number he was receiving error messages from was not owned by the banking app he was using. In total, the student lost $179.

Another scam happened the following day. A different student reported they received a message from someone pretending to be their employer; the message instructed the student to purchase $2,000 worth of gift cards and reply with the cards’ information. The student complied and later realized it was a scam, but the gift cards had already been redeemed by this time.

The third scam happened on Dec. 23 and involved a threat of deportation. A female student reported that she had been instructed to send almost $3,000 through a banking app to unknown accounts. When those transactions were completed, the student was instructed to purchase $1,000 worth of gift cards and send the information to the caller. The student complied with everything she had been instructed to do.

The fourth scam, the first of the new year, happed on Tuesday. A woman reported that someone called her and claimed to be a federal law enforcement officer; this purported officer said there was a warrant for the woman’s arrest. The woman was instructed to withdraw money from her bank account, convert it into cryptocurrency and transfer it to an unknown account. She complied with the instruction, losing just over $3,400.

A scam long maintained by U of I Police indicates that more than 20 scams were reported to them in 2022, several of which involved threats of domestic arrest or international deportation. U of I Police and two counties’ Sheriff’s Offices – Champaign and Christian – have warned that law enforcement agencies will never ask for money or handle warrants over the phone.

Anyone who encounters this red flag is advised to hang up immediately and call police. The University of Illinois Police Department can be reached at its 24-hour non-emergency number: 217-333-1216.