Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A Promise Of Saving Students Money Turns Out To Be A Big Lie

David Nogueras


When something seems too good to be true, it probably is. More than 90 Chinese international students at the University of Washington had to find this out the hard way.


This past spring, Chinese students were the target of a scam. The alleged ringleader, a fellow Chinese student who goes by FY, possibly walked away with nearly a million dollars.


The scam promised students 5 percent off tuition for the 2016 summer quarter if they gave the money to people working for FY. Justin Su, a 21-year-old mechanical engineering major on a budget and looking to save money, took the bait.


His heart sank when the university called to tell him that they did not receive the $11,000 needed to pay for his summer quarter.


“First I was really confused and thought it might be a mistake from them,” recalled Su, “I immediately went to the international office and asked about it. And a lady in the office told me it was a scam. I was really angry… They used my trust and stole the money.”


One of the surprises of this scam is that it came from within the Chinese community.


“That community building is essential to them. It essentially replaces the family unit that they are so use to having. So for this to come from one of their own community members is shocking for them and probably very devastating,” said Tiffany Ran, who covered this story for the Northwest Asian Weekly.


According to Su, the University of Washington allowed him to take the summer quarter classes. He needs to pay the university the missing $11,000 in time for spring quarter. Meanwhile, the investigation into the scam is ongoing. Both the University Campus Police and the FBI are involved.

This story originally aired on Nov. 12, 2016

Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.