Scams and Frauds in USA – Now is the time for most students to join US universities. In the new environment, there can (and will) be many situations that could affect them adversely. Like in other countries, there are scammers who are ready to do fraudulent activities and cheat the students new to the US system – education and living.
The below given information was officially circulated by the US universities during the NAFSA Convention 2016, in order to help students escape the cheating and frauds that happen.
Phone scams: Some students receive calls purportedly from FBI, Homeland Security, Immigration, IRS, Police and District Attorney Office etc. When students verify online, the numbers ‘match’ with the name of the organization mentioned. This is known as ‘spoofing’.
Audio Scams: There may be recorded or live calls asking to purchase ‘Cash Cards or Vouchers’ of $2,000 or more, for making payment of “International Student Fee” or “Education Tax” etc.
Mail Scams: You may receive emails with the name “DHS Documents” asking for money to be paid for various purposes.
Online Scams: Students may be tempted with offers like “Green Card lottery” and asked for their full information.
Employment Scams: Since there is a time limit of 90 days for students to get a job/internship after obtaining an OPT card, they will be under pressure to get some job or the other. At such times, consultants will try to pitch in with offers like employment and for training students for interviews etc. In the training, they will coach students to say that the student is on EAD that was sponsored by employer for a Green Card. Actually, the student will be on ‘post-completion OPT’. By telling such a lie, the student faces the risk of deportation!
Third-party Tax Forms: Student may receive “Form 4506T – Request for Transcript of Tax Returns” by email, asking for payment of tax etc. This form is illegal and should not be acted upon.
Students should not fall into the trap of accepting or agreeing to the threats or demands of callers or mails. Instead, ask for the name & phone no. of the caller, request for his badge (ID) number and indicate that they would get back to him/her, if it is a phone call. Don’t get intimidated by threats that if they disconnect or don’t pay they could be arrested. That does not happen, since no official law enforcement official can demand money or payment immediately and threaten with arrests etc. for non-compliance.
What to do: Contact the International Student Office of your university and inform them of the issue. They will take up the matter and help you identify the scam/fraud.
To help new/unsuspecting students, universities are conducting orientations, send emails, conduct workshops on OPT, post warnings on Facebook, create web pages about these scams and give handouts etc.
Students can also visit the USCIS webpage on “common scams and reporting procedure”. And, SEVP has published warnings on their website about scams for both students and universities.
A few more hints for the students to save themselves from such frauds,
Do not reveal your contact information for all. Keep it private.
Do not cash cheques from unknown sources
In case of doubt, contact the Designated School Official (DSO) about unethical employment practices by employers, or if students receive any suspicious calls etc.
Please be careful and all the best with your sojourn to the USA.
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