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TODAY   |  April 17, 2014

FBI video warns students abroad about spying

A new FBI video is warning students preparing to study abroad that they could be recruited as foreign spies. NBC News White House correspondent Peter Alexander reports

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now, to a new warning from the fbi and u.s. college students preparing to study abroad . it's a video with a serious message. peter alexander is in washington.

>> hey, carson, 280,000 american students studying abroad each and every year. the fbi is now warning them they could be recruited as foreign spies. they've put together what is really a short movie based on a real-life spy story .

>> reporter: the fbi is cracking down on espionage but they're not looking for your typical 007.

>> i don't want to break any major laws.

>> reporter: just this week, the bureau released a 20-minute video, glenn duffy shriver from michigan. in 2011 , shriver was sentenced to four years in federal prison attempting to give information to chinese information officers wooed him with a job in shanghai.

>> who cares? it's just an essay, as long as they pay.

>> reporter: $70,000 later they encouraged him to work for the cia. at the end of the interview, a jailhouse interview with shriver himself.

>> don't fool yourself. the recruitment is active. and the target is young people . see what happens.

>> reporter: a former u.s. intelligence official tells nbc news chinese officers aggressively target dozens of american students each year. experts say china is not alone but russia and israel are known to target students, too.

>> the targeting of students, especially students in hard sciences has been apparent for a long time. scenes were shot in washington, d.c.'s chinatown and the dialogue can be cheesy at best.

>> i think it qualifies as awesome.

>> reporter: they have new warnings.

>> it seems like another situation, creating a job for somebody, making a video about college students being spies.

>> the bureau won't say how much the video cost to produce. but one former intelligence official told me it's infinitely cheaper, carson, than the consequences of that one naive student that takes the bait.

>> peter alexander , thank you so much.

>> that's incredible.

>> stuff right out of hollywood.

>> it is. who would even think it. you think a college student , what do they know? obviously, these countries are taking the long view.

>> you have to make his 28-minute video put it in movie form for it to be registered.