URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The University of Illinois Police Department reported on Friday that two students were scammed earlier this week out of a collective $25,000 by unknown people who called them.

University Police became aware of one scam on Wednesday. Officials said the student received a call from someone claiming to represent the Chinese Embassy and was threatened with arrest if she did not pay a fine. The student provided her passport information and wired $23,000 to the scammer.

Another scam was reported to University Police the following day. The student reported that a person had called them, claimed to represent the U.S. Postal Service and said their identity had been stolen. The caller directed the student to purchase gift cards as payment for a new Social Security Number. The student complied and transferred the card information to the caller.

University Police are well familiar with scams; these latest two scams are the eighth and ninth scams reported to them this semester alone. They maintain a log of these scams to provide examples of what scams look like and to help other people avoid falling victim.

There are several red flags that University Police advise people keep in mind when they receive a call from an unknown person:

  • No government official (including police officers, immigration officials and tax agents) will ever demand money over the phone
  • Scammers try to intimidate victims with empty threats of arrest or deportation
  • Scammers will often demand payment in the form of something other than cash, like gift cards or virtual currency
  • To avoid banks becoming suspicious, scammers will sometimes direct victims to visit a series of banks to withdraw cash in small portions that eventually add up
  • Scammers often spoof phone numbers of legitimate agencies

Anyone who encounters one of these red flags is advised to hang up the phone immediately and call police. The University of Illinois Police Department can be reached on its 24-hour non-emergency number: 217-333-1216.