International students at St. Cloud University are being targeted by a prank caller impersonating police and the IRS, claiming that if the students do not send money they will be arrested.
Similar calls have been reported in the Twin Cities and elsewhere. The Associated Press reported last month that one victim lost more than $500,000.
The St. Cloud calls have varied from no conversation on the other end to threats of expulsion if students fail to comply with their demands. Last month, calls were coming from 320-251-1200, the St. Cloud Police Department’s non-emergency number — an incoming line only.
This number cannot be used to make outgoing phone calls, so it will never appear on someone’s caller ID, police said Thursday. The line will either take the call to a Police Department phone directory or, if after hours, directly to Stearns County dispatch.
As of Thursday, students were still receiving calls from that number, with pranksters identifying themselves as an officer and even reciting a badge number, police said.
Others reported getting calls from 320-255-7200 from someone asking to send money orders. This is the main trunk number for the city of St. Cloud, police said, and also is not capable of making outgoing calls.
Police are advising residents that if they receive a call from either number, it is likely a hoax.
In January, residents of Savage were duped in a similar phone scam, causing one person to lose $6,500. Callers posing as IRS employees instructed unsuspecting residents to pay money they owe via a gift card or money wire. Illegal caller ID “spooking” allowed the fake agents to make an IRS number appear on the victim’s caller ID.
People who have received a phone call like this but haven’t sent money should contact the IRS at 1-800-366-4484. Those who have sent money should call 911 to report the theft. For more information, visit www.irs.gov.