University Police Department to students: ‘Beware of scammers’

Posted on Feb 17 2017 - 7:35am by Ashley Thusius

University Police Department is urging students to be wary of scammers asking for personal information.

UPD has an ongoing investigation involving students who have received phone calls from a person claiming to be from the FBI. The caller reportedly threatens students with an active warrant for their arrest and tells them it can be paid off through credit card, debit card or gift card information.

UPD Police Chief Tim Potts said the calls began last week.  There have been two official reports, Potts said, but officials are aware of other cases where students who have received calls have not contacted the department.

The university has sent 10 emails since December 2016 warning students of scams, including two since the spring semester began.

Potts said he knows one student who has lost funds due to the scam, but he wants even the students who have avoided the scam to report it.

“Even if people have not experienced a financial loss through this, just call to let us know so we can document it,” Potts said. “It will protect them in the future– should anything happen, they can at least verify that they did in fact call the police department, and it will be recorded.”

Students are urged to not provide any personal information if they receive a suspicious call, whether the person claims to be from a federal agency or from law enforcement. UPD says they should disconnect and immediately inform campus police at 662-915-4911.

Potts said this is not the first time this type of scam has occurred at Ole Miss. When a university detects this problem, Potts said the department notifies other schools to see if it has happened to them as well.

Potts said it is difficult to track these scam calls because the numbers are often fake or routed through different cities.

“We are pretty sure it’s an organized group that’s doing something like this,” Potts said. “It’s not people that are always familiar with your area, so they may, in the conversation, say something that sounds odd.”

Potts said people behind these scams often find students’ numbers through sources like mailing lists or directories. Contact information can also be available for purchase on the internet.

“I would just emphasize if people get this kind of caller, the person is giving them incorrect information,” Potts said. “If it doesn’t seem right, then trust your instincts and disconnect the call.”