USC DPS Community Safety Advisory: Scams Targeting International Students

COMMUNITY SAFETY ADVISORY

Note: the content includes language about sexual assault that may be disturbing to some readers

The USC Department of Public Safety is providing this notification to advise the campus community of concerning reports of scams and thefts targeting our students and members of the USC community. DPS has received three reports, which indicate USC international students may have been targeted by individuals with criminal intentions.

The first report concerns a male, who is possibly a local college student, who targets Chinese female international students by approaching them with an offer to photograph them. The photography he requests has a sexual component to it and may involve coercion. We do not have a suspect description of this individual at this time.

If you are approached by someone offering to photograph you, decline the offer and call the USC Department of Public Safety at (213) 740-4321 for UPC or (323) 442-1000 for HSC. If you are in immediate danger call 911.

The second report concerns a student who received a telephone call from an individual who identified himself as a Social Security Administration officer. He told the student that her account was in jeopardy, as it had been linked to a money laundering and theft investigation. He told the student he could help her by moving her funds to Bitcoin and changing her SSI number. The individual indicated he would call the student back later with instructions. The individual called the student back, identified himself as an Alhambra police officer, and gave her instructions to transfer $5,000 in U.S. currency to a Bitcoin account in two transactions (the first one for $2,900 and the second for $2,100). The individual advised the student not to speak with anyone about the incident.

If you are contacted by someone claiming to be with the Social Security Administration, or any other governmental entity that requests you transfer funds or provide your banking information, decline the offer, hang up and call the USC Department of Public Safety at (213) 740-4321 for UPC or (323) 442-1000 for HSC. If you are in immediate danger call 911.

The third report concerns a student who reported he received a friend request on Facebook from a female student with a profile located in the Philippines. The student accepted the friend request. The female and the USC student began to chat and communicate on Facebook and Skype. During one of their Skype sessions the female asked the USC student to perform various sexual acts including masturbation. The female recorded the Skype session without the student’s permission and demanded the student send her $1,000 through the Remitly website or she would send the recording to the student’s Facebook contact list. The USC student sent the female $500.00, and the female requested additional money.

If you are contacted by anyone requesting that you engage in sexual conduct while using Skype, Zoom or other video conferencing method, decline the offer, do not reveal any of your personal information and do not provide any payment to them. Report the incident immediately to the USC Department of Public Safety and or your local law enforcement agency. If you are in immediate danger, call the LAPD at 911.

If you have any questions regarding this community safety advisory, please contact the on-duty watch commander at the Department of Public Safety at (213) 740-5523.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual or gender-based violence, please consult the USC Office for Equity, Equal Opportunity, and Title IX for additional support by visiting https://eeotix.usc.edu/. If you or someone you know has been affected by an incident on or near campus, USC provides numerous health and wellness resources. For more information visit https://eeotix.usc.edu/resources/.

This Community Safety Advisory is also available in: Mandarin, Korean, Hindi.