Community Safety Notice – Scams

Dear campus community member:

We want to inform you of a series of crimes that have been affecting the campus community, so you have the information you need to take the appropriate precautions. This message alone is not necessarily an indication that crime rates on campus have increased or that a pattern of crime has emerged. For a more comprehensive look at crime in your area, you can view the daily crime log.

Within the past week, University Police have been made aware of three incidents of scams referred to as “sexual extortion.” These scams generally occur on social media or messaging apps. They involve an unknown offender who contacts a victim, lies about their identity and engages in conversation of a sexual nature. After requesting intimate photos or video of the victim, the offender then threatens to send those images to the victim’s social media contacts unless the victim pays money.

Additionally, other financial scams continue to affect students. University Police publish a log of these scams so that our community members can review and understand some of the most common scam designs. The International Student and Scholar Services website has a section with additional information on scams.

It is important to follow some safety tips to reduce your risk of being targeted for sexual extortion:

  • If you engage in intimate conversations electronically, it’s important that you know and trust the other person and that everyone involved is a consenting adult.
  • Do not share personal information on social media. Scammers can use that information later to convince you that they are someone else.
  • Use strong privacy settings, and do not add someone as a friend if you don’t know them personally.

There are some common warning signs that a call may be a scam:

  • No government official will ever demand money over the phone. If someone claims to be a police officer, immigration official, a tax agent, or any other government representative demanding money, the call is likely a scam.
  • Scammers try to intimidate victims with empty threats of arrest or deportation. If a caller threatens to have you arrested if you hang up, the call is likely a scam.
  • Often, scammers will demand payment in the form of something other than cash. If a caller directs you to purchase gift cards or transfer payment in the form of virtual currency, the call is likely a scam.
  • Scammers often “spoof” phone numbers of legitimate agencies. Number “spoofing” makes the victim’s caller ID display a legitimate phone number, often that appears to be within your geographic area or from your home country, even though the call is originating from somewhere entirely different. If you have doubts about a caller’s identity, you should hang up and call the listed number for that agency to speak to a representative.
  • Scammers count on a sense of urgency. If a caller tells you to do something immediately or face consequences, the call is likely a scam.

If you are unsure whether you are dealing with a scam, you can consult University Police by calling 217-333-1216 or emailing You can also send us an anonymous message using the contact form on our website.

Please take a moment to review these resources we have made available to keep you informed, and consider liking UIPD on Facebook, following us on Twitter or subscribing to our news feed to receive regular updates.