Police: Phone scam targets college students and their families

Relatives of Boston students have received calls saying that the student needs money for bail.

The Boston Police Department is warning Boston-area students and their families of a phone extortion scam.

Relatives of students have received calls where an unknown person states that the student has been arrested and instructs the relative to send money for bail via FedEx, according to a statement. The caller may know details about the student’s life, possibly gathered from social media or other websites. This could include names of family members and details of the student’s employment or education.

The department is advising students to contact family members and make them aware of the scam.

Relatives who receive a call are instructed to do the following:

  • Attempt to contact the person that has allegedly been arrested and confirm their well-being.
  • Ask the caller for specific information about where the family member may be held.
  • Have the caller physically describe the family member to see if the caller can provide some level of detail that could help confirm or dispel the claim.
  • Note the phone number where the call or text originated and report the incident to your local police department or the Boston Police Department immediately.

In addition to filing a report with Boston police, victims can also report any phone or internet fraud scam to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (TTY 1-866-653-4261).