Although scams targeting international students have increased, students can protect themselves with knowledge and resources.

Immigration Scams

The international student receives a phone call from someone claiming to be from a U.S. government agency, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or Homeland Security. The person knows specific information about the student like their date of birth. The person says that the student owes a large fine and requests immediate payment by credit card, electronic transfer, or demands the student purchase gift cards for the person. When the student asks questions or waivers on providing payment information, the person becomes aggressive and threatens the student with deportation.

Employment Scams

A student receives an email from what appears to be a legitimate business offering the student employment. As part of the "job" duties, the student is sent a check from the company. The employer asks student to deposit the check in student's bank account. Employer instructs students to keep some of the money for student's pay and then distribute the remainder as instructed the employer. Sometimes, the employer will demand that the student purchase gift cards and send them to the employer. The student finds out from their bank that the check or money order sent by the employer was fraudulent. The student now has an overdrawn bank account, and owes the bank fees and the funds deposited.

Tuition Scams

The typical scam is student is approached by someone who promises to discount the student's tuition if student pays through them. The person will use the student's Ohio State username and password to access the student's Buckeyelink account. The person pays the student's tuition with a credit card and the tuition appears paid in full on the student's account. After receiving confirmation of payment, the student wires the person the tuition minus the discount promised. However, the student later finds out that the credit card was stolen and that Ohio State rejects the payment. The student now owes the entire tuition amount to Ohio State in order to remain enrolled, and no longer has the money the student wired to the scammer.

Travel Scams

A travel "broker" promises to book the student's international flights for low costs. The broker requires the student to pay up front in order to secure the tickets. The student gives the broker the money but the broker never provides the promised tickets.

Package and Mail Scams

Student receives a phone call from someone claiming to work for a delivery service.  The caller informs student that student's passport information was stolen and used to mail a package containing illegal items. The caller tells student that student must call a number provided to speak to "police".  The student calls "police" number and is told that student's personal information and/or banking information is connected to a corruption case.  The "police" officer tells student in order to clear student's name student must transfer money to police or student will be arrested. 

  • Do not give anyone your Ohio State username and password over the phone or via email.
  • Ohio State will never ask for this information over the phone or via email.
  • Government agencies will never contact you by phone, or via email, demanding payment or requesting wired money.
  • Government agencies will never ask you to purchase gift cards for payment to them.
  • Hang up if you suspect a scam. The caller will try to keep you on the phone. Do not believe their threats.
  • If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • If someone is promising you a discount on tuition, they are trying to take advantage of you.
  • Do your research. Search the internet to see if the great deal you think you're getting is actually a scam.
  • Do not feel pressured to pay someone for anything.
  • Do not conduct business with any company or person who rushes you, or pressures you to make a payment.
  • Remember — you cannot accept any off-campus employment without the prior approval of the Office of International Affairs and most legitimate employers in the area know this.
  • Do not give anyone your bank account or credit card information over the phone, unless you are absolutely certain you are giving the information for a legitimate purpose. And, if you're not sure whether it is a legitimate purpose, talk to Student Legal Services.

If you suspect a scam, or believe you have been the target of a scam, schedule an appointment with Student Legal Services online or by calling SLS as soon as possible. Our services are confidential and private, with no judgment.