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Scams Targeting International Students and Scholars

We’ve been made aware of a recent scam targeting international students and scholars.  The caller claims to be from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a unit of the Department of Homeland Security.  The caller tells the student that the USCIS has caught an error in the student’s immigration record.  The caller has a lot of information about the student, including name, date of birth, address, etc. and sometimes even the last digits of the I-94 number.  The student is often told that he/she has to leave the U.S. immediately because a criminal case is pending again him/her.  However, the caller says that he can help the student solve the issue if the student sends money quickly via a wiring service.  There have been reports that at least one student panicked and sent over $1,600 to the scam artist.

We want to warn students and scholars about this specific scam, but also remind you that there are other scams that we see regularly.  Particularly at tax time, students receive calls and email messages from someone claiming to be an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax agent asking for confirmation of birthdates and Social Security Numbers.  IRS will never call for such information.  Some of these scammers are sophisticated enough that a telephone caller ID will falsely indicate that the call or email is from the federal agency.

If you receive a call from a government agency that asks for private information or that threatens you with legal action, you should assume it is a scam.  Ask for a name and telephone number to call back—and if you are not given this information take this as a warning.   Do not allow the caller to intimidate or threaten you—a legitimate government agency will not do this.  And under no circumstances send money or give out personal information such as your Social Security Number, birthdate, or immigration details.

If you have been a victim of this telephone scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission at, or report it to an appropriate state authority. (Visit for information on where to report scams in your state.)

Please help us by reporting any scam phone calls or emails, even if you did not provide information to the person who contacted you.

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