Scams Targeting Students


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The International Education Centre has been made aware of several scams or fraud that are targeting students. These include scenarios where students are being approached to move money for other individuals (money mules), and scenarios where students are being defrauded of their own money, usually in a threatening manner.

These scams involve personal contact via the student’s phone, email or social media accounts and can come across as very realistic and threatening. More information about fraud prevention can be found on these U of T Community Safety Office pages.

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Fraud Prevention Tips:

  • Being aware of what personal information is available about you online – fraudsters may try to mine information about their targets online and can use information that is posted about a students’ location, family, pets, program of study, etc. to appear legitimate.
  • Ensure that personal contact information (phone numbers, emails, social media login information, student number, home address) is secure and remains offline.
  • Suggest students (staff and faculty members too!) Google themselves – they may be surprised what is out there.
  • Reviewing your social media platforms to ensure your security settings are up to date. When App Updates are pushed out sometimes your security settings can be altered, unbeknownst to you. It is a good practice to review your security settings on the platforms you use from time to time to make sure that nothing has changed, or to upgrade to new security features that become available!
  • Be aware of receiving “offers” from people you do not know. This can include offers of employment (for jobs you never applied for) or for, unsolicited offers for online romantic/sexual encounters, or receiving communications notifying you that you have won a contest or lottery that you didn’t apply for. If it sounds too good to be true then it is likely that it is.

Things To Look For:

Fraudsters develop elaborate stories and scenarios to make you believe they are legitimate. Below are some common examples that fraudsters use to trick people and get their personal information and/or money. 

  • A call/email from someone posing as a Government Official from Immigration Canada indicating that there are outstanding fees due to incorrect information provided on your immigration applications;
  • A call/email from someone posing as a Government Official from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) indicating that a tax audit has been conducted and outstanding taxes are owed;
  • An email from someone posing as a Government Official from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) indicating that you received money and you should click the link to deposit it;
  • A call/email from someone posing as a Service Canada representative indicating that your Social Insurance Number (SIN) has been blocked, compromised or suspended; 
  • A call/email from someone posing as a Bank Teller asking you to provide account information (e.g. account number, birth date, etc.);
  • Threats from someone posing as a Police Officer asking for payments to be made;
  • Threats from the caller indicating that a warrant for your arrest is outstanding and will be executed if payment is not made immediately;
  • Threats from the caller indicating that you will lose your visa or status or be deported from the country if payment is not made immediately;
  • Threats from the caller that you or your family will be in trouble if payment is not made, or information is not provided; 
  • Specific payment instructions which may include making Western Union or Money transfers, wire transfers oversees or taxis being sent to your home to facilitate transportation to your financial institution.

Things To Know:

  • There are various communication channels that you may be contacted through - email, phone, text message, Skype;
  • If it seems to be too good to be true, it usually is; 
  • Don't always trust your caller ID/call display on your phone. Scammers have ways to change call display to say things like "Police", when in fact they are not legitimate; 
  • Canadian Government Officials WILL NOT contact you directly and demand money in exchange for securing your Canadian status;
  • The CRA will NEVER request a payment by e-transfer, online currency such as bitcoin or pre-paid credit cards;
  • If the CRA is sending you money it will be by direct deposit or by cheque in the mail;
  • The CRA NEVER sends out text messages. Any text message you receive from the CRA is a scam; 
  • Your bank will never ask you for account information. If they are legitimate bank tellers they already have this information;
  • The Canadian Government DOES NOT accept payments via Western Union, Money transfer, prepaid Credit Cards or through wire transfers to a foreign country;
  • The CRA or Government Officials will never use aggressive language or threaten you with arrest or sending the police. 

What To Do If You Receive This Type Of Call Or Email:

Fraudsters appeal to your emotions and demand immediate action, affecting your ability to use logic or ask questions. Take a moment to stop and think before taking action. 

  • Be suspicious of anyone asking for money or personal information;
  • DO NOT make a payment or provide your personal information. If you are suspicious, ask the caller for an employee number and hang up the phone. Look up the company online (e.g. CRA or IRCC) and call them to confirm whether the employee number provided by the caller and the request is legitimate; 
  • DO NOT click on links in emails received from suspicious email addresses;
  • Block suspicious phone numbers;
  • If you sent money or shared financial information, report it to your financial institution ASAP e.g. your bank, Western Union
  • If your Social Insurance Number (SIN) has been stolen, contact Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218
  • Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre if you would like to report the incident;
  • Contact Peel Regional Police if you would like the report the incident;  
  • When in doubt, ask! Visit us at the IEC or Campus Safety if you have any questions or would like support in addressing this issue. 

If You Are a Victim of Fraud:

We strongly encrouge you to report it to Campus Safety Service or to contact the Community Safety Office for a consultation.

Helpful Resources: