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Alert from Penn Public Safety:  Advanced Fee Internet Scams
February 17, 2009, Volume 55, No. 22

Public Safety has recently received several reports of Advanced Fee Internet Scam attempts occurring to members of the Penn community. The scams are particularly targeting international students.

A student, faculty or staff member advertises the sale of their school books or other property on craigslist, eBay, the newspaper or a social network site such as Facebook or MySpace,  and a ‘buyer’ attempts to send a check for more than the amount of the advertisement. For example someone selling a $58 book may have a ‘buyer’ send them a $1058 check requesting that the extra money be returned to a post office box or via Western Union. After doing so the check received from the ‘buyer’ bounces and the ‘buyer’ has already received the $1000 from the seller.

When buying or selling items on the internet please follow the below safety measures to ensure a secure transaction occurs:

• If someone sends you a check for an item or service advertised on the internet, be sure the check clears prior to sending the item. Bank clearances take between five and eight work days.

• If someone sends you a check for an amount more than you are seeking for an item or service, assume immediately that it is a scam and do not respond. Do not, under any circumstances, send cash through Western Union. The buyer will emphasize the need to send the money quickly because he knows it will bounce. Contact the Police immediately.

• Try to use online payment services such as PayPal to help protect the sale of your items.

• DPS strongly recommends that individuals do not respond to any unsolicited or suspicious e-mails. All persons should be aware that providing any personal information in response to an unsolicited e-mail can compromise their identity, which creates the risk of identify theft and other financial issues.

• DPS encourages all recipients of such e-mails to contact the Police and notify the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center by filing a complaint at www.ic3.gov or contacting their local FBI field office directly.

Please report all suspicious activity that occurs on campus to the University of Pennsylvania Police Department by calling 511 from a campus phone, (215) 573-3333 from off-campus or cell phones, or from any Blue Light Emergency Phone. To report suspicious activity occurring off-campus, please call the Philadelphia Police by dialing 911.


Almanac - February 17, 2009, Volume 55, No. 22