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Monday, June 24, 2024
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The International Services Office in the Pyle Center photographed on Feb. 28, 2024.

UWPD warns students of increased scams targeting international students

Fake government officials have been scamming international students for money and personal information.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department released a statement on Feb. 20 warning students about common online scams that target international students, preying on concerns about visas or immigration. 

One international student recently lost $250,000 after receiving a fraudulent phone call alleging their identity was stolen, according to Xin Cui-Dowling, a graduate program manager in the Mathematics Department. The scammers may even speak to the student in their native language to exploit their vulnerabilities. 

“The scammers speak Chinese, so it is obvious that these scams target Chinese students,” Cui-Dowling said. “They are a very vulnerable group. They are far away from home and are always concerned about their visa status.”

UWPD warned students of the five most common scams: a fake landlord, a fraudulent job, gift cards, impersonating police and government official scams. 

“We see [the government official scam] most often targeting our international students or employees,” according to the statement. “One way to stop this scam is to contact the actual department being mentioned and make your own inquiries.”

The FBI released a public service announcement earlier this year about fake Chinese police officers targeting international Chinese students. 

A 2021 report from U.S. News found the most common scams targeting international students are related to immigration, housing and taxes. The report echoed UWPD’s statement and said if something sounds too good to be true it’s probably a scam. 

Students who think they are getting scammed should not send money and instead contact UWPD to report the incident, campus police advised. International students can also contact UW-Madison’s International Student Services.  

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Bryna Goeking

Bryna Goeking is the arts editor for The Daily Cardinal. She also reports on campus news. Follow her on twitter @BrynaGoeking.

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