What to do if you've been scammed as an international student
The website, launched by the Securities and Exchange Commission, looks just like one of the investments that have flourished in the Bitcoin era, complete with celebrity endorsements, research, and pictures of tropical destinations. Source: AFP/Eric Baradat

International students are prime targets for fraudsters. Due to their status in being new to the country, usually with no social support located nearby, they are deemed easy prey for prying scammers.

Common scams aimed at international students target crucial factors like immigration, housing and taxes, preying on their lack of knowledge of surrounding local systems.

As such, they end up falling prey to fraudsters, losing precious time, money, mental well-being and sometimes, even personal safety.

But this situation is avoidable if you know the right people to contact to help you escalate the issue. And in these situations, your bestie can offer a shoulder to cry on, but they may not be the best source for information and advice.

These are the people you could contact instead:

1. Warden

Scammers are getting more sophisticated, targeting students through phone calls and online. Source: Shutterstock

If your dorm or campus has one, this person should be your first point of contact, since they will most likely be closest in proximity to you. This is particularly true if the scam has any potential physical impact or if it’s connected to your accommodation.

The warden will be able to inform you if that suspicious request for rental deposit is really part of college policy. He or she might also be able to tell if the number the questionable phone call is coming from should be flagged – just like what happened when this University of Wisconsin-Madison student was told she would be arrested if she didn’t buy thousands of dollars worth in Google Play gift cards.

2. International Student Office

This is a no-brainer. During orientation, your International Student Office (ISO) will have listed potential scams you should be wary of and named the person you should contact for certain types – including contact numbers should they fall in non-office hours. Following this instruction is crucial.

It’s best to reach out to your ISO first if your warden is unavailable or if you live in private accommodation, since these people know which other university departments to contact or alert.

3. Police

If you see anything suspicious, and especially if it’s beyond your international student office’s purview, the police should be notified. Local police may have additional information or could have spotted trends your university may not yet know of. As such, they would be able to give you targeted advice on what to do next.

As Joan Fiesta, Lieutenant at the University of Illinois Police Department said to US News:

“Coming to us is not a risk … Providing the person online or on the phone with personal information, that’s the risk.”

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