The Boston University Police Department received several reports of scams last week involving fraudulent sales of comedy club tickets in classrooms, according to their statement.
The suspect, described as a 25 to 30 years old white male, claimed that he had cheap New York comedy club tickets for BU students, according to BUPD. He entered classrooms and sold each ticket for $10 by credit card only, using a handheld credit card reader.
“The subject in this matter was identified and further investigation revealed that tickets from the comedy club in New York are good for one year [and] tickets are being returned to the students,” Chief of BUPD Kelly Nee wrote in an email.
The scam affected the History and Principles of Journalism course taught by Christopher Daly, a professor in the College of Communication.
“He rushed into class just as class was about to start so I think he had been lurking out in the hallway,” Daly said. “This guy rushes up to me and says, ‘I’m from special projects and I’d like to make a brief announcement at the end of class. That’d be okay, wouldn’t it?’”
Daly said several of his students reported that they were scammed.
“Eternal vigilance is the only real protection here,” Daly said. “We have to always have our guard up. We’re a big University in a big city, and we should be on guard.”
AdLab was another course affected, where several students paid the subject for tickets.
Sydney Parker, a junior in COM who was in AdLab then, said the scammer spoke to her class and mentioned the comedy show would include comedians like Pete Davidson.
“Someone in AdLab … said she’d bought tickets, and one of the reasons was literally because he had mentioned Pete Davidson and the [ticket] lasting for three years,” Parker said. “She really did believe it, and she was super excited to get the tickets.”
BU was not the only university affected by this scammer, Nee wrote.
“[The] subject misrepresented himself as associated with the school and several other schools nearby had the same individual on campus,” she wrote.
In February, BUPD sent an alert about several fraudulent emails sent to BU community members. It provided advice on how to spot a phishing email, including what makes emails suspicious and advice for dealing with fraudulent emails.
Despite multiple situations with scams this semester, Nee noted BU’s rate of scams remain steady.
“They are so pervasive across the country and according to recent Federal Trade Commission data, consumers report losing $8.8 billion annually,” Nee wrote. “These entities are very convincing. We know this is an under reported crime.”
In the Fall 2021 semester, students wired or forwarded over $175,000 to scammers, who claimed to be government officials or employers.
“Many of our students fall victim to the scams where an imposter threatens to arrest the student for a crime or reports issues with visas, etc,” Nee wrote. “The imposters then extort money from individuals who are threatened.”
She added BUPD does outreach during the academic year regarding scams to ensure the University community doesn’t fall victim to them.
“These are very frightening and traumatizing events to a person,” Nee wrote. “We will also send out alerts when we are made aware of these taking place within [our] community.”