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Scams and Bulletins

Bulletins and Warnings

Phone Scams

Phone scams threaten individuals with an arrest and deportation if they fail to meet the scammer’s demands. This may include threats of arrests of international students from police in their country of origin or the U.S. government. The phone call usually starts with a person identifying themselves as an American or foreign government official claiming to have an open case involving the victim in criminal activity or claiming that the victim's social security number has been used for illegal activity. The caller then threatens the victim with an arrest and imprisonment, deportation or future visa denial. To prevent arrest, the scammer asks the victim to purchase hundreds or thousands of dollars in gift cards, Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency, or bank wire transfer funds to the scammer.

Scammers have the technological ability to "spoof" legitimate government phone numbers. They may even ask you to "Google" the phone number shown on your caller ID to confirm that they are from a government agency. Search engines may even show that the number the scammers are calling from is the same number as a true government agency. However, the incoming phone number is often "spoofed" and not the true phone number.

General Safety Tips

  • The United States government and law enforcement will NEVER ask for any form of payment, including gift cards or Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, to avoid an arrest.
  • Do not assume that the phone number shown on your telephone screen during an incoming phone call is the true phone number that is calling. Technology allows scammers to "spoof" or change the phone number that appears on your phone screen for an incoming call. If you have any doubt, hang up, look up the phone number for the agency calling you and call them back yourself.
  • If you are an international student, confirm any communications with your government by calling your local consulate.
  • Always be suspicious of phone calls from unknown individuals or phone numbers that you do not recognize.
  • Do not conduct business over the phone with callers you do not know.
  • Never share personal or financial information over the phone with someone you do not know, e.g., social security number, debit/credit/pre‐paid card numbers, etc.
  • If anyone contacts you and asks you to pay or send them money using Bitcoin, wire transfer or pre‐paid cards of any sort, this is probably a scam.
  • If anyone calls asking for payment due to your involvement in a criminal case, hang up the phone and call your local police department.
  • If you cannot verify the caller’s identity, feel unsafe or suspect criminal activity, call the UC San Diego Police Department: Non-emergency help line, (858) 534‐4357.


Housing Scam

The UC San Diego Police Department has information regarding a company that is the target of a criminal investigation. World Elites Housing Inc., also known as WeHousing, is a company that purportedly assists students across the United States locate housing, pay rent, and security deposits. Students pay the company directly and in turn, the company is supposed to pay property owners and managers. However, in the past two years, campus police departments across the country have begun to receive complaints about WeHousing. The complaints allege that students who used WeHousing’s services began to receive eviction notices because WeHousing never forwarded funds to property owners and managers.

The UC San Diego Police Department advises you to be cautious when dealing with intermediary companies during housing searches. It is preferable to deal directly with property owners and managers and to review and receive all contracts in writing. If possible, work with licensed attorneys, and real estate agents and brokers.

What to Do

If you believe you may have fallen victim to an intermediary company during a housing search, please contact the UC San Diego Police Department at (858) 534-4357.

Private Tutor Scams

We advise tutors to be cautious when posting ads on message boards and websites like Craigslist. A scammer who has seen your ad, or posted an ad seeking a tutor that you responded to, may contact you. Scammers may also contact professors seeking referrals for student tutors.

Tutor fraud characteristics include:

  • Receiving an email or text message from someone who does not live locally, often claiming to live in Europe
  • Use of a common Anglo-sounding name (e.g., Smith, Jones, Morgan, Andrews, Wilson, etc.)
  • Poor use of grammar, spelling and punctuation, typically associated with a non-English speaker
  • Individual claiming to have a son, daughter, niece or nephew who will be in your area and requires tutoring for a short time, such as a few weeks
  • Offering advanced payment for the entire block of tutoring time
  • Communication consisting of several emails or texts and may include a phone conversation

How the Scam Works

  1. Once you and the scammer have agreed on your tutoring fee, the scammer (or his "accountant," "client" or "company") will send you a cashier’s check for substantially more than the agreed-upon fee (e.g., $1,000-$4,000 more) with a reason for the excess payment. Examples include covering the child's travel or living expenses while in the U.S., a nanny's wages, or they owe someone in the U.S. money, his company cannot cut a check for a smaller amount, or an arrangement with a previous tutor fell through.
  2. The scammer will tell you to deposit the cashier's check into your bank account and once the check clears, they will "trust" you to send them (or someone else) the excess amount via bank transfer or Western Union.
  3. Your bank will accept the scammer's check as valid because it is printed with a real bank's name and legitimate routing and account numbers. A few days after you deposit it, the cashier's check will clear and the funds will be available in your account. The check is going to bounce, as you will discover later, but it takes a couple of weeks before this happens.
  4. Thinking that you have the cash in your account, you withdraw the excess amount and wire it to the scammer as instructed (or to some other third party).
  5. In 2-3 weeks, your bank will determine that the scammer's check is counterfeit and will deduct the amount of the scammer's check from your account. You will be liable for the entire amount.

This type of fraud is known as a Check Overpayment Scam because the scammer sends you substantially more money than the negotiated fee. In most cases, these scams operate out of Nigeria and are virtually impossible to trace or prosecute.

To avoid this scam, never:

  • Make any agreements with people who do not live locally and cannot meet with you in person
  • Send money to anyone who initially contacts you by email or text (This is ALWAYS a scam.)

For more information, see: