Community Safety-Theft By Trick

On April 29, 2019, at 2:15 p.m., a student was approached by a stranger in a business suit who said that he was from Italy and asked the student for a loan of $2,800 in exchange for four designer jackets as collateral. The student agreed, and the stranger drove the student to a local bank where he withdrew the money. After exchanging the money for the jackets, the stranger gave the student his contact information and promised to repay the student. The student later learned that the jackets were counterfeit and the stranger’s contact information was invalid.

SUSPECT DESCRIPTION (provided by the victim):
Suspect:  Male, white, heavy set, wearing a black business suit

SUSPECT VEHICLE:  Black Ford Explorer

The USC Department of Public Safety has received numerous reports from students, many of whom are international students, who had been tricked into either giving money to strangers who tell them of their misfortunes or posing as agents of the IRS, U.S. Customs, or other public entities. Since the beginning of the 2018 fall semester, 23 students were victims to these frauds with an average loss of $2,000. Other students have lost as much as $16,000. Don’t become the victim of a scam! Please carefully read the following information.


Never provide personal information or money to anyone who you do not know, or has contacted you by phone, email or the Internet claiming you have violated your immigration status or owe taxes and must transfer money through Western Union, or other companies, in order to rectify your immigration status, and never get into a car with a stranger.

Avoid making cash transactions with strangers. Most scams happen when a stranger approaches you with either a sad story or a business offer. They seek to gain money from you in exchange for something that may not be true. If you don’t know the person asking to make a cash transaction, DPS recommends that you request a DPS officer to witness the transaction. Or ask the person to meet with you at the DPS station to make the transaction. Most likely, the stranger would not be comfortable with an officer present.

If you are contacted by such persons, do not reveal any personal information. Ask for their contact information and report the incident immediately to DPS and/or your local law enforcement agency.

Beware of Tax Scams!

Do not fall victim to scammers who call and say they are with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)! More and more phone scams have been happening in which people will call and threaten you with police arrest or deportation if you do not pay them.

Please be advised, even if you do owe taxes…

  • The IRS will never call and demand immediate payment over the phone.
  • The IRS will never threaten or intimidate you, demand payment with a prepaid debit card, or ask for your credit card or debit card number over the phone.
  • The IRS will never threaten to call the police or immigration agents if you don’t pay.

If you or a fellow student receive a call like this, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration online or by calling 800-366-4484. Also, report it online to the Federal Trade Commission.

Extortion Scams

Scammers are contacting students via various online social media and chat platforms. They deceive students into believing they are entering into a consensual online sexual encounter and secretly record them. Then they threaten to make the video public unless the student sends the individual a substantial sum of money via Western Union or MoneyGram. This is a criminal act known as extortion and is a serious crime. Scams (criminal acts accomplished through trick or deception) such as these can be avoided. Do not respond to friend requests from complete strangers. Never send strangers money or give them your credit card information.

If you have been the victim of this type of crime, the University of Southern California encourages you to report the crime to DPS by calling (213) 740-6000 or to the Los Angeles Police Department by calling (877) 275-5273.

If you believe that you are a victim of theft accomplished by trick and deception, please notify the USC Department of Public Safety at:

University Park Campus         (213) 740-6000

Health Sciences campus          (323) 442-1200

 If you are in immediate danger, call the LAPD at 9-1-1 or

DPS at (213) 740-4321 for UPC or (323)442-1000 for HSC

If you have any questions regarding this crime alert, please contact the on duty Watch Commander in the Department of Public Safety at (213) 740-5523.