Phone Scam Under Investigation

October 15, 2014 at 11:22 am

Over the past week several students at USC Columbia and USC Upstate were targeted by phone scammers claiming to be police officers demanding money to avoid arrest, deportation and/or having their classes dropped.  The phone number the scammers used was (803) 545-3500, which is the phone number for the City of Columbia Police Department. Columbia Police, the University of South Carolina and federal authorities are investigating how scammers obtained student information and why specific students were targeted. If you have information about the scam or have received these types of phone calls please call University Police at (864) 503-5911. If you wish to remain anonymous you may submit information on-line to University Police at or Spartanburg Crime Stoppers at

University Police urge students to follow these safety precautions to avoid falling victim to these scam artists:

  • If someone you don’t know asks for money over the phone, DO NOT COMPLY.
  • If you have caller ID make note of the number the call is coming from and save the information.
  • If the caller claims to be a law enforcement, government or school official, ask for a call back number and verify the information and intent.
  • If the call back number is fake and/or part of a scam, call University Police immediately.
  • Do not engage in a lengthy conversation with the caller.
  • Keep a detailed log of the times and dates calls were received, threats, or demands made.
  • Make note of any background noises you can identify  (traffic, noise, music, other voices, etc.).
  • Listen carefully to the caller’s voice (male or female, any unique voice characteristics, etc.).

If you need any further information please contact USC Upstate Investigator Paula Brewster at or (864) 503-5271.