College students across the United States continue to be targeted in a common employment scam. Scammers advertise phony job opportunities on college employment websites, and/or students receive e-mails on their school accounts recruiting them for fictitious positions. This "employment" results in a financial loss for participating students.
How the scam works:
- Scammers post online job advertisements soliciting college students for administrative positions.
- The student employee receives counterfeit checks in the mail or via e-mail and is instructed to deposit the checks into their personal checking account.
- The scammer then directs the student to withdraw the funds from their checking account and send a portion, via wire transfer, to another individual. Often, the transfer of funds is to a "vendor", purportedly for equipment, materials, or software necessary for the job.
- Subsequently, the checks are confirmed to be fraudulent by the bank.
Consequences of participating in this scam:
- The student's bank account may be closed due to fraudulent activity and a report could be filed by the bank with a credit bureau or law enforcement agency.
- The student is responsible for reimbursing the bank the amount of the counterfeit checks.
- The scamming incident could adversely affect the student’s credit record.
- The scammers often obtain personal information from the student while posing as their employer, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft.
- Scammers seeking to acquire funds through fraudulent methods could potentially utilize the money to fund illicit criminal or terrorist activity.
Tips on how to protect yourself from this scam:
- Never accept a job that requires depositing checks into your account or wiring portions to other individuals or accounts.
- Many of the scammers who send these messages are not native English speakers. Look for poor use of the English language in e-mails such as incorrect grammar, capitalization, and tenses.
- Forward suspicious e-mails to the University’s IT HelpDesk and report to the FBI. Tell your friends to be on the lookout for the scam.
The IC3 produced a PSA in May 2014 titled "Cyber-Related Scams Targeting Universities, Employees, and Students," which mentioned this type of scam. This PSA can be viewed at https://www.ic3.gov/media/2014/140505.aspx