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Scam Alert: Phone scam targets students, community members

August 23, 2017

The Virginia Tech Police Department has received reports of a continuing scam that targets students and community members by phone. The scam begins when the student receives a telephone call from an individual claiming to be a member of a law enforcement or a government agency.

During these calls, the victims are told that they owe the government money and, if they are unable to pay the amount while still on the phone, they will be arrested. The caller then instructs the victim to purchase various gift cards and provide the numbers to them or wire money electronically. After obtaining the gift card numbers, the callers usually hang up without giving any further instructions.

Many have reported receiving the telephone calls from phone numbers that come back listed to the government agency with which the caller claims to be affiliated. These numbers are easily found on the internet and are used to "spoof" the victim, or falsify the number on the Caller ID to hide the caller's true identity.  This scam is occurring in a number of communities across the United States.  In the most recent local attempts, calls were made to look like they came from either the Virginia Tech Police Department or the Blacksburg Police Department.  Blacksburg reports that the most recent number being used in the scam is (540) 961-1150.

Additionally, the callers often have personal information about the victims, such as home addresses or the name of the school they attend, which can often be found by searching the internet.

The Virginia Tech Police Department would like to remind all community members that:

> No law enforcement or other government agency in the United States, including the Virginia Tech Police Department or the Blacksburg Police Department, will ever call you on the phone and threaten you with arrest if you do not immediately send them money or provide them with the number of a gift card.

> You should never give out personal identifying information over the telephone to anyone demanding money or financial compensation.

> Listen closely to what is being said. Terminate the call as soon as you determine you are the target of this scam.

Community members should report all crimes and suspicious activity/persons anywhere on campus immediately to the Virginia Tech Police Department at (540) 382-4343 or by dialing 911. Anonymous tips can be reported online or via the LiveSafe mobile app (for Android and Iphone devices).

As a service to the community, the Virginia Tech Police Department posts Safety Tips to include information on scams that have targeted the Virginia Tech community.  For more information, visit www.police.vt.edu.

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