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Scam Alerts

International students and scholars may be targets for scammers. It is important that you education yourself, become familiar with common scams, and be proactive in protecting yourself. The following information is for general education purposes to help you be better informed about common scenarios and about how to safeguard your personal information. 

What is a scam? 

A scam is a way to trick an unsuspecting person into sharing personal information and/or money for a fraudulent purpose, which for the perpetrator may include monetary gain, ability to obtain false documents, etc. 

What are some indications that it could be a scam?

Four Signs That It's a Scam (Federal Trade Commission)
1. Scammers pretend to be from an organization you know.
2. Scammers say there's a problem or a prize.
3. Scammers pressure you to act immediately.
4. Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way. 


What are some common types of scams?

  • Employment scams. You might be contacted by email or by text with a job announcement that indicates high weekly pay for little work. The scammer might even say that they are from an organization that is real and they might use the real name of an actual employee. At some point in the application process, the scammer asks for your bank information or asks you to make some kind of payment for a purpose that may sound legitimate. If you are not sure that the offer is legitimate, do not give any personal information, including do not provide your banking information. You may contact the Center for Career Development to learn about trusted employers and job offers.
  • Immigration scams. A caller might impersonate a government official, such as ICE or from your home country, and claim that your documents are about to be terminated or have been terminated due to a mistake in your original submission. They might ask you to make some kind of payment or they might ask you for your bank information to fix the problem. Another scam might involve the idea that you have won the visa lottery and you are asked to pay a fee. Important: U.S. government officials such as the USCIS, US Department of State, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will never ask you for your bank information or immediate payment over the phone. If you are not sure if the request is legitimate, do not give any personal information to the caller. Contact the ISSS office for guidance. 
  • Scholarship or loan scams. Be careful about scholarship agents or offers that approach you with an offer for a large scholarship that requires you to pay a fee upfront. Similarly, be careful about scam loan agents who may offer you a low interest rate on a large loan with an extended pay back schedule and ask you to pay a fee upfront. If you are not sure if the offer is legitimate, do not give any personal information to the agent. Contact the Financial Aid office for guidance. 
  • Off-campus housing scams. Be careful about nice housing online for very inexpensive rent or offers that require you to pay a deposit before you are able to verify the legitimacy of the housing and the offerer's legal authority to rent the unit. Contact Marymount's housing office for a list of trusted sources of off-campus housing.
  • Tax scams. These scams might come over the phone, by email or text, through social media, or even in the mail. While it can be difficult to figure out if a request is legitimate or not, note that most contact from the U.S. Internal Revenue Services (IRS) is through the mail and can be verified by contacting the IRS through a local IRS office.


Many Types of Job Scams. The Federal Trade Commission, a U.S. government agency, publishes a list of common employment related scams. Examples include: mystery shopper, virtual jobs, babysitting opportunities, fake job interview, identity theft schemes, and many more. 

Housing: Avoid Scams & Fraud. This Marymount University website provides common "red flags" to be aware of when searching for short-term housing, student housing, and other housing rentals.

USCIS: Scams, Fraud, and Misconduct. This U.S. government website has information on the following topics: Report Fraud, USCIS Tip Form, Avoid Scams, Common Scams, Report Immigration Scams, and Report USCIS Employee Misconduct

Tax Related Scams. The International Revenue Service (IRS) provides information about tax scams and some signs that may indicate a tax scam. 

FBI Washington Field Office Warns of Scam Targeting Chinese Communities in the U.S. (May 9, 2024 warning.)