Some students have fallen victim to two popular scams targeting the Champaign-Urbana area.
Two increasingly common internet and phone scams in the area have University of Illinois police cautioning students against engaging in conversation with strangers.
Three students have fallen victim to what the FBI has labeled “sextortion” — a crime where a stranger entices the victim into a video chat to perform sexual acts on the screen. The victim does not know the video chat is being recorded, and the stranger demands to be paid off or that he/she will release the video.
UIPD recommends students do not pay the scammer because they might return later and demand even more money.
University of Illinois Police Department Spokesman Patrick Wade said scams happen all over the place all the time, but sextortion is unique because it’s a new trend happening more often.
“If you don’t know the person and haven’t ever met them, then keep in mind they might not be truthful about who they are and what they’re up to. The same thing goes for people you’re talking to on the phone,” Wade said.
Another recently reported scam on campus was the phone scam where someone pretends to be a representative of the IRS, telling victims they’ll be imprisoned or experience other consequences if the victims doesn’t pay the IRS tax money they supposedly owe. The victims then provide their card information to the scammer, who then buys thousands of dollars in entertainment gift cards.
One scammer recently received $2,350 from a University student.
Wade encourages students to reach out to law enforcement following any incidences.
“If something feels funny, it’s probably because it is. So if a red flag comes up and you want to talk to UIPD, they’d be more than happy to talk to you,” Wade said.
UIPD encourages students to call 217-333-1216 to speak with a detective if they receive a suspicious call.