Detecting and Reporting Fraud

Several of our valued suppliers have alerted us to an active email scam involving purchase orders and requests for product quotations that purport to originate from the University of Southern California but are in fact fraudulent. While the university cannot prevent this illegal activity, we are actively working with law enforcement to investigate these fraudulent email contacts.

We can share some common traits or themes of these fraudulent emails that may help reduce risk to your company becoming a financial victim of this scam:

  • The email message is poorly written, with misspellings and awkward sentence structure.
  • The sender’s email address or website link are not authentic to USC.
  • The message requests shipment of products to non-USC addresses.
  • The message may include an attachment that is designed to look like a purchase order, may include a logo or other graphic, and a signature that may look legitimate.
  • The message and/or fraudulent purchase order may make mention of “Regents,” the title for the governing body of the University of California system; USC is a private institution, not a member of either of the state university systems.

Since USC Procurement Services does not communicate with suppliers via anything other than a valid USC email account, one step you can take to quickly determine whether or not you have received a fraudulent email is to verify that the sender’s email is a legitimate USC email address, which will always end with usc.edu. Emails without these last seven characters are not from a USC email account.

If you believe you have received a fraudulent email that appears to be from USC, please forward it to USC Procurement Services at purchasing@usc.edu to verify its legitimacy before responding to the email or filling the order. You can also verify the authenticity of the sender’s email address yourself by searching for it in USC’s online directory.

We value our partnership with our suppliers and appreciate the important role you play in providing goods and services to the university’s faculty, students and staff in support of their academic, research, and administrative endeavors. Please know that we are assisting with the investigation of this illegal activity to the fullest extent of our ability by sharing all reports of fraudulent emails with the appropriate authorities.