Bamboozled September 7, 2017: 10 college students lose $58,000 to scams. Is your student next?

College students are supposed to be smart, right?

Well, they may be book smart, but they’re not necessarily educated about scams.

A perfect example is what happened in late August at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C.

Campus police said 10 students lost more than $58,000 to a variety of scams over a two-week period.

In one case, an engineering student received a phone call from what she thought was the campus police department’s phone number.

It was actually a scammer who had spoofed the number.

The caller, who knew the student’s name and lots of her private information, said he was calling about an IRS investigation that involved the student. That she could get kicked out of school and have her credit ruined if she didn’t get this cleared up, and fast, reports said.

The student was convinced to go to a Best Buy store and purchase $6,000 in gift cards, reports said. Then she gave the card’s codes to the caller.

Over the next several hours, the student stayed on the phone with the scammer, who continued to play her.

After supposedly checking the student’s file, the scammer said it wasn’t enough money. The student needed to go to a different Best Buy store to purchase another $6,000 in gift cards. After that, she was told to buy another $2,000 at yet another store. And she read all the cards’ codes to the caller.

Finally, $14,000 in gift cards later, she was instructed to destroy the cards, and she was given an “appointment” to meet with the IRS.

When it was over, the student called her parents, and that’s when she realized it was a scam.

Campus police are investigating, and it issued a warning to students on its website.

“The scammers are asking for payment with gift cards or iTunes cards,” the warning said. “The phony calls also appear to be coming from university police phone numbers.”

It reminds students that the IRS will not call to demand payment by gift cards, wire transfers or bank deposits, it will not ask law enforcement to contact you on the IRS’ behalf and it will not call to threaten to arrest you for unpaid taxes.

Don’t say this could never happen to your kid.

Instead, talk to your college student about common scams that target young adults. Here are a few to remember:


In a tuition scam, a fraudster claiming to represent the financial aid or bursar’s office from the student’s college will call. He might say the college didn’t receive a tuition payment or a student loan disbursement, and if the student doesn’t pay immediately, the college will have to drop the student from all her courses. The caller will insist on immediate payment, usually in the form of gift cards.

While it’s absolutely possible a college might call to ask about overdue tuition bills, no college will ask for payment via gift cards.

If your student receives a call like this, they should hang up and call the financial aid or bursar’s offices directly.


College students are always on the lookout for extra cash, and scammers know it.

Scammers try to take advantage by posting fake jobs to lure a student in. Whatever the job title, the scammer will mail a check to the student to cover items the student needs to buy to perform the job, usually including a couple of weeks’ pay.

The student will be instructed to deposit the check into his own account. Next, he’ll be instructed to write a check or send a wire transfer to the phony employer’s preferred vendor to pay for the needed supplies.

After a few days, the fake employer’s check bounces, but the student has already sent funds to the scammer. The student is then on the hook with his bank for that money.


College students are making new friends on campus, but some “friends” are anything but.

Scammers take advantage of these new relationships, pretending to be someone they’re not. They might befriend a student, and then ask the student for a favor. The fake friend explains that he doesn’t have a bank account, but he needs to cash a check so he can make a tuition payment.

The scammer has the student deposit the fake check, and then either take out cash or make a wire transfer on the phony friend’s behalf. By the time the check bounces — and it always bounces — the new friend is long gone and the student is left owing thousands to his bank.


College students connect on social media to talk about classes, events on campus and just about everything. Scammers know it, and they take advantage by posting fake offers that are nothing but attempts to steal private information. The posts could be a job offer, a concert ticket giveaway or just about anything.

Tell your student to beware of links and downloads posted on these sites. By clicking a nefarious item, the student could release malware onto his device or inadvertently give a scammer access to private financial information. That could lead to identity theft, credit cards or other loans taken in the student’s name and more.