News and Information about the University of Maryland Police Department

UMD Safety Notice 08/28/2020

INCIDENT:    Multiple Incidents of Fraud (scams) 

OCCURRED: Between July 8, 2020 and August 27, 2020 

LOCATION: College Park, Maryland

UMPD CASES #: 2020-56145, 2020-59661, 2020-59771, and 2020-59800


We write to you today to make you aware of multiple incidents of fraud (scams) that have been reported in our area.

Over the past two weeks, we have received four reports of fraud (scams). The victims in these cases are University Affiliated and were either contacted by email or by phone. In each case, the caller was pretending to be from a Government Agency, an Employer, an Electronic Company, and Law Enforcement/Immigration. The scammers made false accusations paired with fear tactics to convince the victims to buy gift cards and/or bitcoins as payment in order to avoid any further action taken against them. 

Scammers will use different methods to contact a potential victim. The scammer may call, email, text message or even approach the potential victim in person. The goal of the scammer is to make up false accusations along with fear tactics or even pity to try to convince the potential victim to comply with the scammer’s demands. The scammer will often remain on the phone with the victim until they receive the gift card number and pin. Once they have that information, there is little chance a victim could get their money back. 

However, there could be a chance that you could recover your money back by calling the company immediately after a scammer is paid. To learn more, click here. But remember, gift cards are for gifts (birthdays, holidays, etc.), not payments. Anyone who demands payment by gift card is a scammer. Scammers will also sometimes use multiple numbers and multiple people to contact victims to legitimize their fraudulent claims.

Here are some examples of various scams:

  • If someone you don’t know mails you a check or approaches you in person and asks you to cash a check for them — don’t. It’s a scam.
  • If someone you don’t know asks you to cash a check and use a wire transfer service to send the money back to them after cashing the check for them — don’t. It’s a scam.
  • You receive a call or email from a scammer claiming to be from a government agency (federal, state, or local) and you need to make a payment in order to avoid being jailed, deported, fined, or that you owe taxes — don't it's a scam.
  • You receive a call or email form a scammer that a family member is in need of help or has been kidnapped and demands gift cards in the form of payment — don’t. It’s a scam.
  • You receive a call or email from tech-support and they demand gift cards in the form of payment — don’t. It’s a scam.
  • If you receive an e-mail/text message from a known individual asking you to send them money, verify with that person first before sending them money.  It could be a scam.

If you believe you are a victim of a scam, contact UMPD to file a report at 301-405-3555. You may also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission at, or call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.  

Below are some resources and videos from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Please take a moment to review this helpful information and learn how you can STOP scams in their tracks! 

Safety Tips:

  • Don’t not give out Personal Identifying Information (PII), such as Social Security Number, government issued photo or selfies to scammers. They can use this information to steal your identity and open accounts in your name. Never provide PII to someone you don’t know.
  • Gift cards are for gifts, NOT payments.
  • The IRS will never call to demand payment, such as prepaid debt cards, gift cards, wire transfer or bitcoin. Neither will Law Enforcement/Immigration. The IRS will first contact you via the mail with a bill to any taxpayer that owes taxes.
  • If you find yourself on the phone with a scammer, hang up. If you received an email, don’t respond. Report the email as spam. 

Safety Resources:

University of Maryland Police Department

Emergency Number 301-405-3333/ #3333 from a mobile phone/ 911

Prince George's County Police Department

911 from mobile phone / 301-352-1200 (non-emergency) / 911

UMD Police Walking Escort

Non-Emergency: 301-405-3555



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