Frauds and Scams Targeting International Students

The Community Safety Office is available to consult with you on any situation that is causing you to be concerned for your safety or the safety of someone else. If you suspect that you have been targeted by a fraudster we encourage your to make a report to your Campus Safety Office (see campus-specific numbers below in the Resources section) or to contact us for a consultation.

Fraud Prevention Tips

  • Being aware of what personal information is available about you online – fraudsters may try to mine information about their targets online and can use information that is posted about a students’ location, family, pets, program of study, etc. to appear legitimate. Google yourself! You might be surprised by what is out there!
  • Ensure that your personal contact information (phone numbers, emails, social media login information, student number, home address) is secure and remains offline.
  • Be aware of social media postings that confirm your location to other users, in particular your residence (whether temporary or permanent).
  • Reviewing your social media platforms to ensure your security settings are up to date. When App Updates are pushed out sometimes your security settings can be altered, unbeknownst to you. It is a good practice to review your security settings on the platforms you use from time to time to make sure that nothing has changed, or to upgrade to new security features that become available!
  • Be aware of receiving “offers” from people you do not know. This can include offers of employment (for jobs you never applied for) or for, unsolicited offers for online romantic/sexual encounters, or receiving communications notifying you that you have won a contest or lottery that you didn’t apply for. If it sounds too good to be true then it is likely that it is.

Fraudsters develop elaborate stories and scenarios to make you believe they are legitimate. For example:

  • A call/email from someone posing as the legal department of Service Canada saying that there are charges that have been brought against you
  • A call/email from someone posing as a Service Canada representative indicating that your Social Insurance Number (SIN) has been blocked, compromised or suspended
  • Threats from the caller indicating that a warrant for your arrest is outstanding and will be executed if payment is not made immediately
  • Threats from the caller indicating that you will lose your visa or status or be deported from the country if payment is not made immediately
  • Specific payment instructions which may include making Western Union or Money transfers, wire transfers overseas or taxis being sent to your home to facilitate transportation to your financial institution

Here is what you should know:

  • Don’t always trust your caller ID/call display on your phone. Scammers have ways to change call display to say things like “Police”, when in fact they are not legitimate.
  • Canadian Government Officials WILL NOT contact you directly and demand money in exchange for securing your Canadian status.
  • The CRA or Service Canada will NEVER request a payment by e-transfer, online currency such as bitcoin or pre-paid credit cards.
  • Government Officials won’t ask you to secure your money by transferring it to them via online currency like bitcoin.
  • If the CRA is sending you money it will be by direct deposit or by cheque in the mail.
  • The Canadian Government DOES NOT accept payments via Western Union, Money transfer, prepaid Credit Cards or through wire transfers to a foreign country.
  • The CRA or Government Officials will NEVER use aggressive language or threaten you with arrest or sending the Police.

Here is what to do when you receive these types of calls:

  • Be suspicious of anyone asking for money or personal information.
  • DO NOT make a payment or provide your personal information. If you are suspicious, ask the caller for an employee number and hang up the phone. Look up the company online (e.g. CRA or IRCC) and call them to confirm whether the employee number provided by the caller and request is legitimate.
  • Call Campus Safety (see below for campus-specific contact information) to get support confirming the legitimacy of the caller.
  • Report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (https://antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/report-signalez-eng.htm), Campus Safety (See Below) or Toronto Police Services (416-808-2222).

University of Toronto Resources:

Campus Safety

  • U of T St. George Campus Safety: 416-978-2222 (Emergency), 416-978-2323 (Non-Emergency)
  • U of T Mississauga Campus Safety: 905-569-4333 (Emergency), 905-828-5200 (Non-Emergency)
  • U of T Scarborough Campus Safety: 416-978-2222 (Emergency), 416-287-7398 (Non-Emergency)

Community Safety Office (CSO): 416-978-1485, community.safety@utoronto.ca

For more information about frauds and scams, and often target international students, please see the Government of Canada’s Immigration Website: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/protect-fraud/internet-email-telephone.html