Telephone scammers targeting students at Montana State University-Bozeman, the University of Montana-Missoula and nationally are telling students they must pay a fine immediately by giving payment information over the phone or they will be arrested by the Montana State University-Bozeman Police Department.
“MSU-Bozeman Police does not conduct business this way,” said MSU-Bozeman Police Chief Robert Putzke. “Any students receiving such a call should not share any personal or financial information with the caller and should call legitimate law enforcement immediately.”
The scammers are predominantly calling foreign students on the University of Montana-Missoula campus, but students at MSU-Bozeman, Penn State and in Georgia and Tennessee have also received calls.
The scam is particularly devious because the caller ID on victims’ telephones shows the MSU-Bozeman Police number. This is known as “caller ID spoofing” and occurs outside of the university system’s technological control.
More than 40 students reported the scam within the span of a few hours on Wednesday. Students report the caller sounds like he is calling from a call center as there are other voices in the background. Students have been told a variety of things: they owe back taxes, have an overdue tuition bill, or a fine and if they do not pay they will be suspended from school, deported, or arrested.
Students receiving such calls are urged to call law enforcement on the MSU-Bozeman, UM-Missoula, and MSU-Billings campuses. MSU-Bozeman Police can be reached at 406-994-2121. UM-Missoula Police can be reached at 406-243-6131. MSU-Billings Police can be reached at 406-657-2147.