International University student scammed out of $4,240

An 18-year-old international University student was scammed out of thousands of dollars while traveling back to school on Aug. 20.

The victim arrived at O’Hare International Airport at 5 p.m. and was planning on taking a bus back to Champaign, according to University Police Detective Sgt. Tom Geis. The victim told police that he was approached by a white male telling him that his bus was not arriving until midnight, but he could offer the student a ride back to school for $1,000 upfront.

The student accepted the offer and drove with the man back to school. Before leaving, the driver demanded that he now be paid $4,800.

The victim told police he only had $4,240 with him and paid the driver that amount. The University student also left his phone in the vehicle, which is estimated to cost $650.

The victim reported the incident to Champaign police who then gave the information to University police.

“We have some possible license plate information and we have been in contact with the Chicago Police Department who works at the O’Hare Airport,” Detective Sgt. Geis said. “They are trying to assist us in finding the vehicle and suspect.”

The vehicle is described as a dark SUV and the driver as a light-haired, white male.

Detective Sgt. Geis said that University police “do some programming and some outreach with (international students), mostly to kind of acclimate them to the police culture in the U.S.” University police also work with International Student and Scholar Services to help international students adjust to campus.

Julie Misa, director of ISSS, said there is a pre-arrival section on the ISSS website with information about traveling from Chicago to Champaign by bus and Amtrak, but there is no information on how much a cab ride from Chicago to Champaign should cost.

“We regret that this has happened to this particular student,” Misa said. “We’ll sit down with campus police and some other folks on campus and see if there’s additional information we can provide pre-arrival for students.”