Increase of Scams and Phishing Emails Across Campus

By Emily Pesquera

A month into the new 2021-2022 school year, various scams have already appeared on The University of Tampa’s campus. So far, many students have been receiving Global Messages about phishing emails and theft within Venmo and Cash App accounts.

On Sept. 21, The Department of Campus Safety issued an information advisory regarding a “series of reports of an unknown male attempting to steal money from students’ Venmo and Cash App accounts.”

Students who were impacted by this theft were asked by the suspect to allow him to use their phone to make a call, who then stated he would send a text. He then initiated a digital wallet transfer instead, allowing him to access student accounts.

Multiple students were tricked into this activity near the front of the Bailey Arts Studio, the Jenkins parking lot, and Plant Park.

“Since UT is an open campus, I feel like it is hard for Campus Safety to stop these specific people from entering campus, but I believe they have done a good job of sending information out to students on how to respond to these situations if they do happen,” said Kaylee Cohan, junior advertising and public relations major.

 The suspects have not been caught, and Campus Safety is urging students to stay on alert and be confident in saying no.

“Most of our campus community is alert when it comes to crime and threats on campus,” said Samuel Ponce, assistant director of Campus Safety. “It is often said that safety does not happen by chance, and it takes all of our campus community to make this a safe educational environment.”

UT’s Campus Safety department puts students’ safety as a priority, and the employees of this department’s mindset is to protect students and staff and encourage everyone to be on alert. 

“I found out through word of mouth [about the scam] and couldn’t believe it,” said Rylie Stanley, sophomore pre-secondary social science education major. “It’s kind of scary to think about, I couldn’t imagine if that happened to me.”

Soon after the advisory email was sent about the Venmo and Cash app scam, a similar warning was sent about an increase in phishing emails, which are an attack on others using email as a weapon.

On Sept. 28, UT released a specific email that said, “We have seen an uptick in phishing emails coming into our email system… it is critical to remain vigilant when reviewing incoming emails.”

UT’s Information Technology and Security released a list of tips and tricks that includes noticing strange emails and thinking before clicking if it is someone you don’t know. Additionally, both students and faculty are advised to submit unusual emails to the Service Desk for Information Security.

“I do [feel safe],” said Cassie LaTorella, freshman computer science major. “So far everyone I’ve met is nice, which helps and then we constantly have Campus Safety and LASER team going around campus to make sure everything is good around the campus.”

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