Protect yourself by learning about scams that may affect international students.

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Phone Scams Target Chinese Students

The FBI Seattle Field Office, in coordination with the Office of the Private Sector, has issued a report informing U.S. universities about telephone scams targeting Chinese international students.

A number of Chinese students at U.S. universities have reported being scammed out of tens of thousands of dollars over the spring and summer semesters. The scammers use spoofed phone numbers so the call appears to be from government agencies, including immigration offices and the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China. 

The scam calls follow this pattern:

  • Caller contacts student, claiming to be from Consulate General of China, Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE) or other government agency.
  • Caller states there is evidence the student is involved with a crime, often involving drug trafficking, human trafficking, or smuggling.
  • Caller demands that the student pay a fine or surrender their money for investigation.

If you suspect you have been contacted by a scam caller, hang up immediately. Do not give the caller personal details, money or gift cards. Read below or contact ISS for support.

What to do if You've Been Scammed

If you think you fell victim for a scam:

  • Protect yourself by stopping any further communication.
  • Change any passwords on accounts that were involved in the scam.
  • Contact any financial institutions involved.
  • Make a report to your local law enforcement agency.  If you are a member of the UB community, contact University Police.
  • File a complaint at the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3, also linked below in the Resources section). The criminal may threaten you or use your identity for another scam.
    • Check the Resources section below for links to report other types of scams with USCIS, the Federal Trade Commission, and others.

COVID-19 Scams

Scammers often take advantage of current events to create new scams. The Coronavirus pandemic is one example. Scammers are using social media, telemarketing calls and other means to offer the fake tests or other benefits in exchange for personal information.

Here are tips to keep you safe: 

  • Don't trust any unexpected calls or visitors offering coronavirus tests or supplies. Visit the FDA to learn more about tests.
  • Ignore all social media offers or advertisements for coronavirus testing or treatments .
  • Only physicians or trusted health care providers should assess your condition and approve requests for COVID-19 testing.
  • Be cautious of all unsolicited requests for your personal information or for money.
  • Fact-check information. Visit What the U.S. Government is Doing for links to federal, state and local government agencies

If you suspect fraud, report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline by phone or through their online form. 

Immigration, Tax, & Government Scams

In the past, students and others in the UB community have received phone calls from people claiming to work for the US government. The callers can use fake caller ID information so it appears they are calling from a US government agency phone number. These calls often involved a request for students to provide personal financial information, including credit or debit card numbers, or for students to purchase Apple gift cards. 

US government agencies like the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the US Department of State, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would never ask for your bank information or immediate payment over the phone. When US government agencies wish to reach you, they will notify you in writing before any phone call. 

The USCIS has a list of common immigration scams. The IRS also publishes tips each year on tax security. We recommend you read their information and prepare yourself to more easily spot a scam! 

If you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from the USCIS, forward it to the USCIS directly at before responding. 

Looking for an example?

Scams can come by phone, email, and text. We have a few examples below to help you identify possible scams.

Scam DMV texts with URL to click on.

Unsolicited text offers or updates are most often scams.

I-901 SEVIS Fee Scams

Any student with an initial SEVIS record must submit their I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee payment through This is the only website certified to collect the I-901 SEVIS Fee.

Unfortunately there are other websites that claim to collect I-901 SEVIS Fee payments. Anyone can report fraudulent I-901 SEVIS Fees through the official ICE tip line. Learn more on Study in the States.

Employment Scams

Many employment scams begin with an unsolicited job advertisement, often to a student's UB email account, about a new job opportunity. After being hired, the student is sent a counterfeit check that they are instructed to deposit in their bank account. They are then told to use those funds to pay for equipment that is necessary for the job. By the time the bank discovers the check you received was fake, you have already paid for the equipment, which never arrives. 

Looking for an example?

Scam job offers come in all shapes and sizes! See two different examples below.

Scam emailed job offer for part-time administrative assistant sent to a UB email.

Unsolicited email job offers are most often scams.

These are just two examples of employment scams. There are others out there as well. The FTC has detailed information on employment scams.

Online Scams

Online scams may offer employment or ask you to do certain tasks as bait in order to steal money or your identity.  These scams often appear to come from someone you know or trust. To learn more about what they look like and what to do if you see one visit UB IT's website

You can find examples of IT-related threats to the UB community here. Take a look, learn to spot a threat and be prepared for any future phishing attempts. 

Be sure to keep your devices and information safe. UB IT has helpful tips and resources available for everyone in the UB community

Did You Know…?

You can print additional Duo passcodes from to use when you need to access your UBITName account but don’t have access to your other verification methods (like your phone).


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