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Scams Targeting the International Community

Please visit this page regularly for recent updates and guidance on scams targeting our international community. OISS has developed this scam tip sheet. If you ever receive suspicious emails, phone calls or letters, please do not hesitate to contact OISS for assistance.

Related resources:
Reporting immigration scams
How to recognize a government imposter
Information on tax phishing scams
Social Security scams
Video: IRS scams


September 4, 2020

OISS has been informed of several scams targeting international students in the U.S. and on campus this fall. Students reported receiving scam calls, emails, and social media posts related to immigration, employment and even package deliveries. In at least one scam, the caller posed as an immigration official and demanded large amounts of money using threats about the student’s visa status. Other students have reported false or misleading information about international student employment on social media.

As a reminder, U.S. government agencies do their business via mail and officials will never call and request personal information or money to be transferred to an individual. They will also never request that items or gift cards be purchased and shared.


January 15, 2020

OISS has been informed of a scam targeting international students on campus. In at least one scam, the caller posed as an ICE agent and demanded gift cards be purchased and shared with the caller.

As a reminder, U.S. government agencies do their business via mail and officials will never call and request personal information or money to be transferred to an individual. They will also never request that items or gift cards be purchased and shared.

If you have been the victim of this or any other scam, please do not hesitate to contact OISS for assistance.


October 29, 2019

The Department of State's Exchange Visitor Progam has seen an increasing number of phone and email scams affecting exchange visitors. These include housing and rental scams that demand that exchange visitors transfer money to a fradulent relator or landlord before they start their program. Other scams involve phone calls from alledged government representatives demanding personal information and money with threats of deportation from the U.S.

Read more about these scams:
Housing Scams
Imposter Scams

If any J scholars, or anyone else at UD, have been a victim of one of these scams, please contact OISS for guidance.


October 28, 2019

OISS has been informed of a scam targeting Taiwanese and Chinese students abroad. A fake organization is selling an online certificate course called "Neuro-Linguistic Programming" and claiming it is offered by the University of Delaware. This is not a program offered by UD.


October 2, 2019

Members of the UD international community have reported receiving phone calls asking for their social security number. Other universities have reported students being contacted about family members in the hospital in their home country, with a request to transfer money to help.

This is a reminder to avoid sharing personal information such as your social security number, bank account number, or date of birth with unknown sources.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which includes U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), will never ask students to transfer money to an individual. In addition, students will never be asked to pay fees via phone or by email. If a student receives a threatening call or message from someone claiming to be a government or law enforcement official, they should:

• Not give the person any personal or financial information.
• Collect the caller’s contact information.
• End the conversation immediately if threats and intimidation persist.

Visit USCIS’ tips on avoiding common scams or read DHS’s Identity Theft and Internet Scams Tip Card.


September 12, 2019

Recently there have been reports of phone calls to members of UD's international community asking for their social security numbers. This is a reminder that you should never give your social security number to anyone who calls you. The Social Security Administration (SSA) and other U.S. government agencies will never call individuals and ask for their social security number. See the announcement from May 16, 2019 for more about the SSA.

If you think you may have been the victim of a scam, please contact OISS for guidance.


May 16, 2019

There have been reports on campus of robocalls seemingly from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The message states that there is a problem with the individual's social security number and provides a phone number to return the call to fix the problem. A representative from the SSA reinforced the message we have previously shared: the SSA will never call individuals about problems with their social security account, unless they are returning a phone call. SSA business is conducted through mail. Individuals are advised to create and log into their SSA account at least annually to ensure their accounts are in good order. Learn more.


May 15, 2019

The Federal Communications Commission is warning the public about a new "Wangiri" phone scam, which in Japanese means "one ring and drop." Scammers place robocalls that allow the phone to ring once or twice and then hang up. They may do this multiple times, in hopes that the recipient will call the number back. If they do, there will be long distance fees that must be paid, a portion of which goes to the scammer. The phone numbers are usually unknown international numbers. The FCC recommends avoiding engaging with incoming phone numbers you don't know, and especially not to call them back. Read more.


May 13, 2019

There have been reports from other U.S. universities about these two scams:

Home Country Officers/Police - There are recent reports of new scams targeting international students through social media or phone with scammers posing as an officer from their home country Consulate or police. The scammers claim that the student owes money for unpaid fines and threaten to arrest or deport the student if they do not provide payment or personal identifiable information. Previously, most scammers posed as U.S. officials and not home country officers.

Package Courier Companies - Students should also be careful if they receive a call from someone indicating they are from package couriers or express mail companies asking for funds or personal identifiable information. If you receive such a call or contact, you may wish to thank the caller and then you can hang up the phone and contact the shipping company directly to ensure the issue is real. DO NOT use the phone number provided by the caller, but rather go in person to your local carrier or use the official company contact number on their official website.


April 19, 2019

Several members of the UD campus community have reported receiving robocalls in Chinese. As indicated in the updated campus-wide email last evening, we are aware of this latest "vishing" scam, which is unfortunately a common one in higher education. These scammers claim that their victim's visa or immigration status is at risk, or that they owe obscure taxes. They then demand money or personal information to correct the issue.

If you receive an email or phone call making these claims, please do not respond. If you received the voicemail only, please ignore and do not respond.

If you are an international student or community member who received one of these calls and spoke directly to someone on the line about your immigration status, please let us, the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS), know as soon as possible. We can be reached at (302) 831-2115 or oiss@udel.edu and we will schedule a time to speak or meet with you right away.

Please warn your peers about this scam, and encourage them to warn others in kind. If someone you know may have been affected, urge them to reach out for help. You can report a phishing email directly to reportaphish@udel.edu.


April 11, 2019

Tax season can be a time when criminals try to steal important personal and financial information by posing as a legitimate company, known as “phishing.” International students and scholars are common targets of phone and email scams, where people claim to be officials from the US government, IRS, and other agencies in order to gain access to personal and financial information for harmful purposes. The most recent known scam was targeted at Chinese graduate students. Scammers claim there is a package waiting for a Chinese student at the Chinese embassy.

You should be suspicious of any organization requesting your personal or financial information via email or phone. When necessary, the U.S. government will only contact you in writing by regular mail. They will NEVER ask you to disclose your SSN/ITIN, personal identification and financial information by email or phone.


The links below are very helpful to help explain phishing scams and how you can avoid them. If you are unsure about an email, phone call, letter, or other correspondence your received, you should not reply. Please contact OISS at 302-831-2115 or oiss@udel.edu if you have concerns.


September 7, 2018

Several members of the UD campus community have reported receiving robocalls in Chinese. The message, translated by UD's English Language Institute, claims that a package is waiting for you at the Chinese Embassy. It goes on to explain that this package relates to your immigration status and that the embassy will send it back unless you follow their instructions to pick it up.

This scam has been posted on IT's Secure UD site: https://sites.udel.edu/threat/2018/09/05/udel-community-reports-immigration-document-vishing-scam/

The Chinese Embassy has also posted a warning on its website: http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/notices/t1552587.htm

Faculty, staff and students, please help spread the word! Warn your peers about this scam, and encourage them to warn others in kind. If someone you know may have been affected, urge them to reach out for help.

Anyone who believes they have been affected by this scam should contact the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) at 302-831-2115 or oiss@udel.edu