Consumer Alert: Greensboro North Carolina Students Hit By College Scam

Scams hurt

A new scam is spreading across Greensboro, North Carolina and sees students getting calls claiming to be from the Greensboro police department. The students hear that they're behind on their taxes, owe a fine to the police or college loan fees and will be arrested if they don't pay up ASAP. This can be very scary for the Greensboro, NC students that get these calls because many aren't savvy enough to know they're being scammed and will be terrified of the prospect of arrest and so will hand over the requested cash.

As with many fear-based scams, the perpetrators demand a form of instant payment like a Money Pak card, iTunes gift card, or Western Union. And once you pay the money, it's gone for good and, of course, there was no real case against you. That's not how police departments operate, plus the police don't collect on student loan fees or taxes. This is just another ridiculous scam focused on the very old and the very young, demographics that often don't know they should fight back rather than pay up.
Dawn Grosvenor of the Greensboro police department says, “They are using a police phone number. When people look it up and Google it does show you it’s a Greensboro police number. We’ve actually had three or four victims, but we’ve had numerous phone calls where people actually call back to our police department asking is this legit?” The short answer is that it's not. If you ever get a call like this, it's always best to confirm with the agency to give yourself peace of mind.
But you should also know that no government agency of any type will demand an on the spot payment using an instant payment form like a cash card. They don't work that way. Plus, government agencies don't make calls demanding things. Instead, they take the old-fashioned approach of sending out hard copy letters via snail mail. And they don't send just one. Most agencies will send letter after letter before they take a more drastic collection action.
Even then, government agencies and federal student loan collectors will go for a garnishment and not call up hassling you over a money card. The chances are 99.99% that anyone who demands a Green Dot, instant VISA, gift card or another instant cash with no recourse option is scamming you. And, if the police did have a warrant out for your arrest (no matter the reason), they will show up on your doorstep with a paper notice in hand – they don't make calls and don't ask for cash cards.
What should be another red flag that you're being scammed is that the callers typically have foreign accents. It's fairly easy to spoof a number to appear on your caller ID to make it look like the scammer is calling from the police, government or a particular business. One local Greensboro student paid almost $3,000 because she was afraid she would lose her student loan based on threats from a fraudster. And, because the perpetrators are outside of the US, there's no recourse – your cash is just gone!
If you ever get a call demanding money on the spot, don't fall for it. Most callers will try and force you to stay on the line to keep pushing you until you send the cash. Just hang up on them. If they call back, tell them you've called the police to report them. No matter what, don't pay up and don't fall for the scam. If you're not sure if you're being scammed, contact the North Carolina Department of Justice to ask for assistance and reassurance.
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