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FBI warns US students about online job scam that can leave them broke

Students online across the US are targeted in a common employment scam, according to FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

“Scammers advertise phony job opportunities on college employment websites, and/or students receive e-mails on their school accounts recruiting them for fictitious positions,” authorities warn. “This employment results in a financial loss for participating students.”

According to recent FBI statements, scammers post online job ads soliciting college students for administrative positions. The student employee receives counterfeit checks in the mail or via e-mail and is instructed to deposit them into their personal checking account. Then, the scammer directs the student to withdraw the funds from their checking account and send a portion, via wire transfer, to another individual. Often, the transfer 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.

Here is a list of potential 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 hurt 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 funds through fraud could use the money to fund criminal or terrorist activity.

The FBI recommends to never accept a job that requires depositing checks into your account or wiring portions to other accounts. Many scammers who send these messages are not native English speakers, so look for poor English in e-mails such as incorrect grammar, capitalization, and tenses. Forward suspicious e-mails to the college’s IT personnel and report them to the FBI. Warn your friends of the scam.

Some examples of how the scam e-mails look:

“You will need some materials/software and also a time tracker to commence your training and orientation and also you need the software to get started with work. The funds for the software will be provided for you by the company via check. Make sure you use them as instructed for the software and I will refer you to the vendor you are to purchase them from, okay.”

“I have forwarded your start-up progress report to the HR Dept. and they will be facilitating your start-up funds with which you will be getting your working equipment from vendors and getting started with training.”

“Enclosed is your first check. Please cash the check, take $300 out as your pay, and send the rest to the vendor for supplies.”

About the author

Răzvan MUREȘAN

Former business journalist, Razvan is passionate about supporting SMEs into building communities and exchanging knowledge on entrepreneurship. He enjoys having innovative approaches on hot topics and thinks that the massive amount of information that attacks us on a daily basis via TV and internet makes us less informed than we even think. The lack of relevance is the main issue in nowadays environment so he plans to emphasize real news on hotforsecurity.com

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