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FBI issues new warning to U.S. college students about intelligence threat

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WASHINGTON – Thousands of American students study abroad each year but now the Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning college students of threats that could land them behind bars.

More than 280,000 American students studied abroad last year and while that experience can make them great employees in the future, it can also make them targets.

Agents say foreign intelligence officers are constantly trying to gain access to sensitive or classified U.S. information.

Authorities say these officers work to develop relationships with students through internships, paid paper-writing jobs and language exchanges.

The student may then be asked to perform a task and provide information in exchange for money.

Intelligence officers may suggest that students apply for U.S. government jobs, especially national security-related agencies.

The FBI is currently working to educate students that are about to study abroad about the dangers of getting caught up in espionage activities.

Officials have the following tips to help students protect themselves while studying abroad:

  • Be skeptical of ‘money-for-nothing’ offers and other opportunities that seem too good to be true. Be cautious of being offered free favors, especially those involving government processes such as obtaining visas, residence permits and work papers.
  • Minimize personal information you reveal about yourself, especially through social media.
  • Minimize your contact with people who have questionable government affiliations or who you suspect might be engaged in criminal activity.
  • Properly report any money or compensation you received while abroad on tax forms and other financial disclosure documents to ensure compliance with U.S. laws.

For more information about the warning, visit the FBI’s website.