Cyber Crime

Stay vigilant online

Cyber crimes are crimes that involve the use of a computer or electronic device such as a smart phone. Many different kinds of crimes fall under this umbrella, including email phishing, fraud schemes, bullying, stalking, and child pornography, to name a few.

Although young adults are incredibly tech-savvy, they are the most susceptible to falling victim to cyber crimes.

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Common scams affecting IU students


Sextortion typically involves someone making contact with a victim through a social media app or site. Contact then moves to private messaging, where a request for nude photos or videos of sex acts is made. The perpetrator then makes demand for payment and threatens to share the photo(s) or video(s) with the victim’s friends or family if they do not pay.

Fraudulent job posting

These postings usually advertise a “work from home” arrangement where the “employee” never meet the “employer.” Victims of this type of crime respond to an online posting, or will be contacted about a job they never applied for. They will be asked to complete a variety of tasks that will take them a small number of hours per week. They are then provided with an image of a check to deposit that is supposed to cover their pay and costs. They are then asked to send a portion of the funds to someone else, usually using an online money transfer app such as Cash App or Venmo, or a gift card.

Fake “For sale” ads

This type of scam is similar to a fraudulent job posting. The victim responds to the posting of an item for sale. They then send a payment, but never receive the item.

Email phishing

This crime involves an official-looking email that includes a link to a website that contains malware or that harvests your credentials. Learn more about email phishing on IU’s Phishing Education and Training website.

Remember: Legitimate businesses will never take gift cards as payment!

How to avoid being scammed online

Here are a few tips for avoiding being the victim of a cyber crime.

Be vigilant

It’s important to always be aware of your online environment and be suspicious of unsolicited contact by people or accounts you don’t know.

Slow down

Remember to take your time and evaluate your online interactions. Scammers frequently use pressure and rapid time constraints to rush their victims into decisions they might not otherwise make. If it sounds too good to be true, it is probably a scam.

Be wary of interactions involving gift cards

If someone asks you to pay with gift cards or to purchase gift cards on their behalf, it is probably a scam. No one takes gift cards as payment!

What to do if you’re the victim of a cyber crime

If you believe you’ve been the victim of an online scam or other cyber crime, it’s important to stop all contact with the individual(s) and report the crime.

How to report

You can report the crime to IUPD or your local police department, and/or to a government agency such as the IRS.

Depending on the situation, you may need to take additional steps such as placing a fraud alert on your credit report or changing your account passwords.

Additional resources

The following federal government websites provide additional information about what to do as a victim of cyber crime:

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