CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN)–Chapel Hill police said scammers are taking advantage of students who are heading back to college.
Chapel Hill Assistant Chief of Police Celisa Lehew said, “there’s a lot to take in when you’re coming to a new place and determining places to live and reside.” Lehew said, unfortunately, scammers can look at this as an opportunity.
Lehew said their police department has already had two scam reports near the UNC campus. She said victims have paid around $800 in an attempt to rent a parking space for the year but later find out that they’ve been mislead.
She said the scam is advertised as a Facebook ad for “student parking” and asks for money to be sent through a money transfer device. Lehew said, “they responded to that ad and responded through the application that they were using and then parked their vehicles there and the vehicles were towed.”
Lehew said scams are becoming more common over electronic formats. Fortunately, it also leaves a print for evidence. She said they hope to make college students aware of the risk and to take extra precautions before sending money electronically.
Lehew said before considering paying for private parking, make sure to verify the property owner, and if they won’t meet or agree to a contract, you should avoid doing business with them.
Eliza Jackson, a Junior at UNC, said she understands how the scam could look appealing. She said parking can be a nightmare and added, “I feel like people are definitely desperate for parking, so it makes sense that people would fall for it.” Jackson said parking near and on the campus can be expensive and difficult to find.
Raymond Prati, a freshman, was unaware of the issue but said it’s important to always use caution these days. He said, “I always feel you can be safe if you’re careful, when you look at things in the eye of someone who’s skeptical, in terms of someone’s who’s trying to scam you.” Prati added, “At the same time, you don’t want that as a college student. It’s your first time away from home, you’re not with your family, and you want to feel safe.”
Chapel Hill police said if you think that you have been a victim, make sure that you keep the evidence of your conversations and reach out to your local police department.