News and Information about the University of Maryland Police Department

10/03/16 UMD Safety Notice: Phone Scams

The purpose of this UMD Advisory is to make you aware of recent phone scams that have been reported to the University of Maryland Police Department.

A scammer will call a potential victim and tell them that they either owe money to the IRS or that a loved one of theirs is being held for ransom until payment is made to the scammer.  In both scams, the scammer will use fear to try and convince the potential victim to comply with the scammer’s demands.

If you have been a victim or a potential victim of either one of these scams, immediately call the police.

To find out more on how you can avoid being a victim of an IRS phone scam, click on and .

To avoid becoming a victim of this extortion scheme, look for the following possible indicators:

  • Incoming calls come from an outside area code, sometimes from Puerto Rico with area codes (787), (939) and (856)
  • Calls do not come from the kidnapped victim’s phone
  • Callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone
  • Callers prevent you from calling or locating the “kidnapped” victim
  • Ransom money is only accepted via wire transfer service

If you receive a phone call from someone who demands payment of a ransom for a kidnapped victim, the following should be considered:

  • Try to slow the situation down. Request to speak to the victim directly. Ask, “How do I know my loved one is okay?”
  • If they don’t let you speak to the victim, ask them to describe the victim or describe the vehicle they drive, if applicable.
  • Listen carefully to the voice of the kidnapped victim if they speak.
  • Attempt to call, text, or contact the victim via social media. Request that the victim call back from his or her cell phone.
  • While staying on the line with alleged kidnappers, try to call the alleged kidnap victim from another phone.
  • To buy time, repeat the caller’s request and tell them you are writing down the demand, or tell the caller you need time to get things moving.
  • Don’t directly challenge or argue with the caller. Keep your voice low and steady.
  • Request the kidnapped victim call back from his/her cell phone.