Spanish-speaking locals of Riverside hit with phone scam

Several Spanish-speaking Riverside residents have reported that a mysterious caller, claiming to be affiliated with UCR, is promoting costly language classes and then failing to deliver. Local community members are told that they simply have to pay a fee of $150 to enroll. If the offer is refused, the resident is then threatened with deportation by the caller, unless payment is delivered within 24 hours.

Residents who have already complained claim that the caller also informed them about scholarship opportunities. “They only asked for their name and phone number and then told them that they would be receiving books at home and that they would contact them later,” said a staff member that spoke with Kris Lovekin, director of media relations.

Callers are very direct with the residents, but do not always call them back as promised.

When additional calls are made to the residents, the caller states that they have been allegedly calling non-stop but there was no answer. Afterwards, the caller warns that the resident must pay a fee by a certain date or they will have to go to court.

“The people are targeted with phone calls in Spanish,” stated Lovekin. “So far police have not been able to determine who is making the calls.” Assistant chief of police at UC Riverside John Freese asserted his intention to find those responsible through ongoing investigations.  Freese and the UCPD are following any lead that they have, but for now they want the public to be aware of the caller.

A notice was sent out to the public in La Prensa, a Spanish Language newspaper. In addition, Lovekin also stated, “We have to put the notice on our UCR Today website so that it will be searchable. We have to let staff members know in the registrar’s office, in case people call in to check on the story.” Riverside residents are being notified to disregard the call and to simply hang up. They do not have to complain to the authorities if they hang up, but if residents have sent money to these callers, the case should be reported as fraud.

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