The following is an entry from the University of Texas Campus Watch:
Theft: A UT student came to the police department to report being the victim of a scam. The student stated on 10/27/15 at approximately 11:30 AM she received a phone call from a subject who called himself, “Johnny.” The caller told the student there was an arrest warrant out for her arrest for non-payment of taxes. The caller then provided personal information about the student to increase her confidence that there was indeed an investigation and arrest warrant for her. The caller remained on the phone as the student made several different cash transfers to three different people on 10/27/15. The caller told the student she still owed money and would need to make transfers the following day or face being arrested. On 10/28/15 the student made two other cash transfers to two of the same three people. In all, the student transferred $5,608.00. Reported on 10/28/15 at 4:07 PM.
This is an extremely common scam targeting college students and the elderly. Both my brother and my grandmother have received a call like this, and were smart enough to not fall for it. Unfortunately, that's not the same for all people.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Never, ever, EVER give out personal and/or financial information over the phone or through email. Your bank will never ask for it, the IRS will never ask for it, the government will never ask for it, the university will never ask for it, the president will never ask for it.
- If the police had an arrest warrant for you, they'd probably just come and arrest you.
- Don't wire transfer money. You won't be able to trace it afterwards and will probably never get it back.
Some other common scams for college students:
- If someone bangs on your door in the middle of the night claiming to be police, it's okay to call 911 to verify. DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR AT ALL, but do ask for a badge number. If they're legit, they'll be understanding. If not, well then at least you called 911. True story: the same thing happened to my aunt. As soon as she called 911, the guy ran away.
- "Multi-level marketing" - ever heard of Herbalife or Amway? These are also known as Pyramid Schemes. These companies promise you SO MUCH PROFIT, but in reality you're making a lot for them but very little for yourself. They rely on you recruiting more people and/or buying their product ahead of time so you can sell it. A common example among college students is Vector Marketing. Nearly every student will receive a letter from them at some point offering a job. You get $15 an hour plus you get to create your own hours. THAT'S INCREDIBLE! Send in your resume, go for an interview, and get offered this cool job selling Cutco knives. But, you need to buy the "demonstration kit" for $145, plus pay to attend all of the sessions on how to sell. In the end, once you've paid for all that stuff, you'll only make a max of $3 per hour, pending you sell your knives and you'll have a whole bunch of knives that no one wants to buy. More info here and here. If you absolutely need a job in college, get one through your university or get an internship in the field you want to work in. It'll be much more worth it in the long run.
- Finally, you'll probably receive a phone call saying you've won a "luxury cruise", but you need to pay the "port tax" first before you can go. Yeah. Right. If you've never entered a contest for that, then you absolutely did not win it. If it's too good to be true, then it probably is.