Be Aware of Scams


Emergency Contact for Scams

Santa Monica College Police Department
1718 Pearl Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405

"Safety for the College Community"

Campus Resources

Student Judicial Affairs

Student Sexual Violence Response and Prevention
Compliance Administration/Title IX

About Scams

Scammers (thieves trying to trick victims) are targeting individuals in Southern California. Scammers posing as local police officers, trusted friends or colleagues, agents of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), travel companies, apartment leasing companies, and immigration agencies – such as the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and U.S. Embassies abroad are contacting students and demanding money and personal information.

Never provide personal information or money to anyone who has contacted you by phone, email or the Internet claiming you have violated your immigration status or owe taxes and must transfer money through Western Union, or other companies, in order to rectify your immigration status.

Avoid making cash transactions with strangers. Most scams are achieved by a stranger approaching you with either a sad story or a business offer. They seek to gain money from you in exchange for something that may not be true. If you do not know the person desiring to make a cash transaction, SMC PD recommends that you summon or request an SMC police officer to witness the transaction. Alternatively, ask the person to meet with you at the DPS station to make the transaction. More likely, the stranger would not be comfortable with an officer present.

If you are contacted by such persons, do not reveal any personal information. Ask for their contact information, and report the incident to the Santa Monica College Police Department and or your local law enforcement agency immediately.

Beware of Tax Scams

Do not fall victim to scammers who call and say they are with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)! More and more phone scams have been happening in which people will call and threaten you with police arrest or deportation if you do not pay them.

Please be advised, even if you do owe taxes:

  • The IRS will Never call and demand immediate payment over the phone.
  • The IRS will Never threaten or intimidate you, demand payment with a prepaid debit card, or ask for your credit card or debit card number over the phone.
  • The IRS will Never threaten to call the police or immigration agents if you don't pay.

If you receive a call like this, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration online or by calling 1 (800) 366-4484 and report it online to the Federal Trade Commission.

Online Tips

The advent of the Internet has brought about a proliferation of annoying and/or harassing email messages directed toward students, staff and faculty.

A report of annoying/harassing emails (653m PC) may be filed. If the email contains any threats, a Criminal Threats (422 PC) report or a report for any other applicable section, such as for a Hate Crime (422.6 PC), may be filed.

When you make copies of the email(s) it must include the Internet headers in the email.

  • Always select a gender-neutral username for your email address or for chat, etc. Don't pick something cute, such as hotcoed@someisp.com or use your first name if it is obviously female.
  • Do not fill out profiles! When you sign up for your email account, whether it is through your ISP or a free one, fill out as little information about yourself as possible.
  • Do block or ignore unwanted users. When you are in a chat room always check out what options are available to you and take advantage of the "Block all users except those on my buddy list" or adding unwanted usernames to an ignore list in chat.
  • Watch what you say online.  When you do participate online, be careful – only type what you would say to someone's face. If you would not say it to a stranger standing next to you in an elevator, do not say it online.
  • Signature Files. If you use a signature file for all your e-mail messages, newsgroup pots, etc., make sure you know what information is in there. Check to be sure you're no giving out your full name, address and phone number.
  • Ego Surf. Put your first name and last name in quotes in a search engine and see if there are any results regarding you. You just might be surprised at what you find.
  • Be very cautious about putting any pictures of yourself online anywhere, or allowing anyone else to publish any photos. Some stalkers become obsessed because of an image. A random e-mail address or screen name is simply much less attractive to most obsessive personalities than a photograph.

More Options

  • Contact the system administrator for the Internet Service Provider (ISP) being used by the subject. The system administrator may cut off the subject's access to their server (computer). The ISP may be determined by looking at the address after the @ symbol. [Note: This part can be "spoofed" or falsified.]
  • Send an email to the system administrator for the ISP at abuse@ISP or webmaster@ISP. The ISP is determined by the address after the @ symbol.
  • Visit spamcop.net.
  • Visit abuse.net.
  • Use the mail forwarder at abuse.net to help forward complaints to system managers who can act on them.
  • Set up a filter on your email application to screen out any email from the subject. You may contact the system administrator for their department to do this.

Types of Scams

Complete text of the sections available at California Legislative Information.

653m PC – Telephone Calls or Contact by Electronic

Communication Device with Intent to Annoy

Every person who, with intent to annoy…makes contact by means of an electronic communications device with another and addresses to or about the other person any obscene language or addresses to the other person any threat to inflict injury to the person or property of the person addressed or any member of his/her family.

422 PC – Criminal Threats

Any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the statement…by means of an electronic communication device, is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out, which, on its face and under the circumstances in which it is made, is so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate and specific as to convey to the person threatened, a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat, and thereby causes that person reasonable to be in sustained fear for his/her own safety or for his/her immediate family's safety.

422.6 PC – Interference with Exercise of Civil Rights

No person…shall by force or threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress or threaten any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured by him/her by the Constitution or laws of this state…because of the other person's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender or sexual orientation or because he/she perceives that the other person has one or more of those characteristics. 

646.9 PC – Stalking

Any person who willfully, maliciously and repeatedly follows or harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his/her safety or the safety of his/her immediate family.

502 PC – Unauthorized Access to Computers, Computer Systems and Computer Data

Knowingly access and without permission alters, damages, deletes, destroys or otherwise uses any data, computer, computer system or computer network in order to either devise or execute any scheme or artifice to defraud, deceive or extort or wrongfully control or obtain money, property or data.

17538.4 B&P – Spam (see 17534 B&P)

  • Must have a removal address for consumer opt-out.
  • Spammer must honor requests for removal.
  • The subject line must have an Aadv label.

17538.45 B&P – Spam

  • May not violate ISP's policy against sending or receiving spam.
  • Defendants must have prior actual notice of the policy and knowledge that the spam was going to be delivered via that ISP.
  • Civil remedy only of actual damages plus $50 per message (up to $25,000/day).

Other Offenses

  • 529 PC – Impersonation
  • 530.5 PC – Identity Theft
  • 535 PC – Mock Auctions, Auction Fraud
  • Title 18 U.S.C. 1030

Other Resources

  • Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office
  • DOJ Computer Crime Section
  • Internet Fraud Complaint Center (FBI and NW3C)
  • Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: (619) 298-3396
  • CALPIRG: 310-397-3404
  • Symantec
  • American Registry for Internet Numbers
  • Gibson Research Corporation
  • Zone Alarm
  • Neotrace
  • Social Security Administration: Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number