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NIU Police warn of bank fraud scam

October 5, 2013

Debit CardNorthern Illinois University’s Office of Police and Public Safety is warning students about an increasingly common bank fraud scam involving the use of debit cards

“We are currently engaged in numerous ongoing investigations involving fraudulent bank activity,” said NIU Police Chief Thomas Phillips. “Local agencies are working in conjunction with federal entities to investigate and prosecute these cases.”

Card owners are typically approached by “recruiters” or “friends” asking if they want to make some extra money by providing their debit cards and PIN numbers in exchange for cash consideration or a promise to split money from fraudulent withdrawls committed by the perpetrator in the future.

Chief Thomas Phillips

Chief Thomas Phillips

After a few days of fraudulent withdrawals, the owner of the bank card will then make a report of fraudulent activity on their bank account directly to the financial institution, leaving the bank liable for thousands of dollars. In some cases, the card owner then makes a false police report claiming a theft has occurred.

“College students are easy targets for this rapidly-growing scam. When approached by a so-called recruiter with promises of quick cash, they’re told all they have to do is provide their card and PIN number for quick rewards,” Phillips adds. “This quick cash opportunity encourages students to do the wrong thing, which is to take the bait.”

Students who participate in this scheme and report their cards as “stolen” can be charged with multiple Class 4 felony counts, among other incredibly substantial financial penalties, which may include:

  • Being reported for fraud through “Check Systems”
  • No checking account for seven years
  • Reduced if not eliminated ability to lease or purchase a residence or automobile
  • Reduced employment opportunities
  • Monetary repayment
  • Potential loss of scholarships or loans
  • Adversely affected credit rating
  • Numerous other civil penalties

“To date, each individual attempting to perpetrate this type of crime by reporting fraudulent bank activity to NIU police have been successfully identified as being associated with the scam and not true victims,” added Phillips.

Investigators at the NIU Police Department urge all individuals approached about this scam to report those involved immediately and be prepared to provide names and descriptions of the offenders. NIU Police investigators can be reached at 753-1212. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call the Tips line at 815-753-TIPS (815-753-8477).


Northern Illinois University is celebrating safety during the month of October. All month long, the university is promoting awareness of the safety programs it has in place as well as offer safety tips for the university community in recognition of Crime Prevention Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, National Cyber Security Month and Fire Prevention Week.