MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — West Virginia University has issued a community notice following six reports in January from students claiming they’ve been targetted by scams, according to a release.

Several of these reports claim that the victims were targeted by “sextortion” schemes. These schemes involve victims being threatened by an individual who claims to have private and sensitive material of them. The perpetrator then claims that they will leak it if requirements are not met, usually a form of monetary payment.

Just last month, the FBI warned that there’s been an explosive increase in teenage boys being targeted by “sextortion” schemes.

Another case involved a “government impersonator scam” where a victim was contacted by an individual falsely claiming to be from law enforcement claiming that the victim missed jury duty. The perpetrator then threatened the victim with the risk of being arrested if a monetary payment was not made.

The FBI released a similar alert in 2021 which provided guidance on how the public can protect themselves from these kinds of scams.

  • NEVER send compromising images of yourself to anyone, no matter who they are or who they say they are.
  • Do not open attachments from people you do not know. Links can secretly hack your electronic devices using malware to gain access to your private data, photos, and contacts, or control your web camera and microphone without your knowledge.
  • Turn off your electronic devices and web cameras when not in use.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also released tips on how the public can protect themselves from “government impersonator scams”

  • Don’t wire money, send cash, or use gift cards or cryptocurrency to pay someone who says they’re with the government. Scammers ask you to pay these ways because it’s hard to track that money and almost impossible to get it back. They’ll take your money and disappear.
  • Don’t give your financial or other personal information to someone who calls, texts, or emails and says they’re with the government. If you think a call or message could be real, stop. Hang up the phone and call the government agency directly at a number you know is correct.
  • Don’t trust your caller ID. Your caller ID might show the government agency’s real phone number or even say “Social Security Administration,” for example. But caller ID can be faked. It could be anyone calling from anywhere in the world.
  • Don’t click on links in unexpected emails or text messages. Scammers send emails and text messages that look like they’re from a government agency but are designed to steal your money and your personal information. Don’t click on any link and don’t pass it on to others. Simply delete the message.

West Virginia University says that anyone involved in these kinds of scams should report it to University Police at 304-293-2677.