Scammers target MSU's international students

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WSYM) - Imagine being in a foreign country, and someone asks you for money on the street.

It's a reality for new international students at Michigan State University and in the last couple weeks, several have fallen victim to scams.

The scam starts off with a person telling a sob story and then asking for gas money. In these cases, international students are being taken advantage of and giving their money away.

Police told FOX 47's Marcus Dash that incoming foreign students are prime targets for con artists.

"They try to prey on people that are trying to fit in and people that are vulnerable," said Captain Doug Monette, Michigan State University Police Department.

Scams through emails, texts, and in-person are nothing new to MSU's campus. MSU police said it's pretty simple to not be the victim of one.

"You don't have to respond; you can continue to walk away, and hang up the phone, or not respond to the email, or text," said Monette.

However, scams targeting international students are a new concept. Although it hasn't been a problem before, MSU's Office of International Students and Scholars prepares students long before they arrive on campus about scams with online videos.

Once students get to campus, they bring in the police to help further explain.

"They get a short in-person reminder from the police about how to stay safe, keeping your personal items safe and yourself personally safe," said Elizabeth Matthews, assistant director of the Office for International Students and Scholars.

Since the recent scams, the Office for International Students and Scholars has been working very close with the MSU police on tips to give students to be scam-free as they roam the campus.

"Walk with people you know and trust, travel in areas that are well lit, know your area, know your surroundings," said Monette.

MSU hopes international students can feel safe knowing that people are looking out for them.

"They are welcome here in our community. One bad apple on the street isn't representative of our community at MSU or here in East Lansing," said Matthews.

MSU police say no arrests have been made, but their investigation is ongoing. They're encouraging students to say something if they see anything suspicious.