University book store credit card scheme in progress

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It’s back to school month and scammers just love it!   The Better Business Bureau (BBB) wants you to talk to your college students about the risks of being overly helpful, especially new college students.

Students at colleges and universities across the country are being warned of a credit card scheme that enlists them to help purported classmates who buy high-end electronics at their campus bookstores.

According to BBB, a number of universities have reported their bookstores lost thousands of dollars in purchases that were made with stolen credit card information. Investigators found similar patterns in each of the cases: perpetrators claiming to have lost their student ID cards enlisted unwitting students to essentially vouch for them at the counter with their valid IDs. The perpetrators then made their purchases—in many cases, high-end electronic products—with a bogus credit card that matched their bogus identification.

FBI Investigators believe campus bookstores may be targets for this scheme because they generally offer specific discounts for students who may not see anything wrong with helping out an unlucky stranger claiming to be classmate.

FBI Special Agent Jennifer Gant manages the Bureau’s Campus Liaison Program, which started in 2008 to help improve communications between the FBI and U.S. colleges and universities.

The program originated in the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division as a way to build relationships and increase two-way information sharing before a crisis.

Each of the Bureau’s 56 field offices has a special agent or task force officer whose duties include building and maintaining connections with school leaders and campus police in their regions.

In June, the FBI released a public service announcement through its campus liaison agents warning of the credit card scheme.

The announcement offers the following tips on how to protect against the scam:

– For students, don’t agree to facilitate a purchase for someone who does not have a valid student ID.

– For school administrators, establish a procedure at your campus bookstore that includes a provision against allowing a purchaser to use a credit card in someone else’s name.

– For victims, notify campus police or campus public safety.

Schools began reporting the fraud last April and sustained losses of several thousands of dollars in each occurrence.

If you believe you are a victim of a scam, contact your local authorities, or in the case of online crimes, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspxwww.ic3.gov/complaint.

Crime tips can also be submitted at tips.fbi.gov.

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