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Scam Warmings for International Students

Recently we have been receiving reports of scam that are targeting international students. We are sharing various commonly reported scams targeting our Asian international students, hoping to get your attention and prevent you from being scammed. 

Scam #1: Phone Calls to Inform Illegal Activities under Your Name

The caller pretends to be from the police station/Border & Customs/post office from the student’s home country, especially China, claiming that they received illegal documents or items under the student’s name, therefore, proving the student had committed illegal acts. The caller then transfers the calls from one pretended authority to another, not allowing the student time to think or verify. These calls always involve demanding the student to pay a bail, to provide ID or bank account information, or to install Skype for further control of students’ daily life. The caller(s) also demands the student to keep everything confidential, meaning not to share anything with their friends, school, or parents; Otherwise, they threaten to deport the student from the U.S. 

In these situations, hang up the phone and call UWPD at 206-685-8973. Do not share any personal information with the caller. Based on our knowledge, the callers or scammers are most likely not in the U.S., so they won’t be able to harm your safety as they claimed to. 

Scam #2: Text Messages asking for payment or clicking a link

Fake text messages from delivery companies, post office, bank, etc., asking you to click on a link, so you can provide your credit information to pay for unpaid delivery fees, bank fees, etc. 

In these cases, do NOT click any links to avoid malwares being installed on your phone. You can simply block the sender. 

Scam #3: Emails or calls from official government agency demanding payment 

Students also often receive official-looking emails (e.g. from or phone calls that display as an official government agency, such as the IRS or China Consulate at San Francisco. These emails or phone calls typically lead to pressuring the student to pay money or threatening to deport the student if they don’t pay. 

In this case, don’t answer the call and block the sender. Keep in mind, any official agencies, like universities, the police, embassies/consulates, the IRS, or Immigration agencies, will NOT call you directly to discuss official business or require payments. In the U.S., emails and postal mails are the most common forms of official communication.

Scam #4: Emails offering remote jobs with a nice salary

Students receive job offers via email that allow them to work remotely and earn a very nice salary. Here is a unique case: On UW Handshake, the scammer created a fake profile for a department dean and offered the student a job to work at the Dean’s office. Then the student was asked to purchase some office supplies or gift cards, being promised to get reimbursed later. 

New case: (added on 11/27/2023)

Recently, there have been frequent calls to students’ mobile phones with the caller number showing as 8696110, pretending to be China’s National Anti-Scam Center. The caller informs the student that they have been involved in major criminal cases such as money laundering due to theft of identity information and using forged official documents, seals, etc. Once gained victim’s trust, the scammer then tricks the victim into transferring money in the name of ensuring the safety of funds. Please be vigilant.  Such calls should not be answered and you should block the sender right away. A helpful tip: All hotline numbers are for the public to call in. Officials will never use the hotline number to make calls.

In these situations, report the scam to UWPD at 206-685-8973 or UWIT at

If you got scammed, you can always call UWPD. If you are unsure about a scam, you can always ask CIRCLE in RCG group chats, email us at or call UWPD. One simple action can help you avoid a lot of unnecessary trouble.