International Student Services

March 17, 2017

Crime Warning: Fake “Government” Phone and Email Scams

Be careful if you receive a call from someone who claims to be from the U.S. government or the police and demands money. These calls are fake, and are from criminals.

UW Police Department has received reports from students about these recent crimes.

The U.S. government and law enforcement agencies never demand money by phone. These types of calls are from professional thieves — they use computer software to make their caller ID appear real, but they are not U.S. government workers. They want to scare you and steal your money!

• Do not give anyone your credit card numbers, online transfer information, or other personal financial information!
• Do not buy gift cards to pay someone calling or emailing you with threats!

Here is a typical version of the call:

1. The caller says he is an officer with a U.S. government or law enforcement agency. Typically they use one of these agencies’ names, but there can be others!

• Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
• Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
• Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
• Seattle Police Department (SDB)
• University of  Washington Police Department (UWPD)
• Any Police Department

2. Next, the caller says you have a tax, legal, or other problem. They often know your name and some personal information.They demand that you pay them immediately. They threaten jail, deportation, university dismissal, or other consequences if you do not pay. They lie and say you can’t tell anyone about the call.

What to do if a scammer calls?

  • End the phone call
  • Ignore any request for money
  • Do not give personal information to an unknown person on the phone or social media
  • If the calls continue, block the call
  • If you receive another call after that, hang up and dial 911 to report the incident to police
  • If you have recently been a victim of this type of crime, meaning you paid money over the telephone to some that called you claiming to be from the government, please call the University of Washington Police Department at (206) 685-UWPD (8973) to make a report.
  • To report a crime in progress, or other suspicious activities or persons, call 911.

Contact the University of Washington Police Community Engagement Unit at (206) 897-1706 for additional crime prevention information.