Carnegie Mellon University

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April 17, 2020

CMU Police warn community about Coronavirus Scammers

This safety alert is to inform the CMU community about a number of telephone and computer scams that have occurred at off-campus residences this month.  

During the COVID-19 emergency, a number of scams have developed nationwide targeting the elderly, the sick and international students, among others.

Locally, the scams have included:

  • Suspects posing as officials from the victim’s home government demanding money via phone for alleged criminal acts;
  • Suspects demanding money to not release embarrassing computer video;
  • Suspects posing as co-workers asking for gift cards to be purchased;
  • Local numbers, such as CMU and Pittsburgh Police phone numbers, being spoofed to look legitimate; and
  • Names of actual government employees being used to solicit payment.

Legitimate agencies do not call or email demanding payment. Written correspondence on agency letterhead is used for such purposes. Requests for the purchase of gift cards or transfer of funds based on emails or phone calls are not for legitimate purposes. If anyone solicits you for money, money transfer, or the purchase of gift cards you should call CMU Police at 412-268-2323 to report the incident.

Pittsburgh Police are investigating these off-campus incidents.


  • Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not give or transfer money via phone or computer to people you don’t know.
  • Call CMU Police if anyone solicits money from you.
  • Immediately call CMU Police at 412-268-2323 or Pittsburgh Police at 9-1-1 if you witness a crime or see anything suspicious.

Chief Tom Ogden
University Police


The purpose of CMU crime and safety alerts is to keep the campus community safe by notifying community members of the date, time, location, and description of incidents that occur on or near campus that could directly impact members of the campus community. Alerts also share safety and prevention tips that may aid in the prevention of similar crimes. Crime and safety alerts will not include the names of victims or identifying information of suspects, unless approved by the Chief of Police in consultation with the Vice President for Operations. For more information, visit