Scammers pose threat to students
Employment scams targeting college students were the subject of an FBI alert, which was forwarded to UAF students by the UA Office of Information Technology. These type of alerts are usually released when the number of reports of these scams increases, according to Karl Kowalski, UA’s chief information technology officer.
On Jan. 19 the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, commonly called IC3, released the alert. These scams are commonly advertised to students on college employment websites or to their student email.
They are usually advertised as jobs that students can do from home or as easy ways to pay off student loans, according to Kowalski.
“To date, we’ve had no reports from any UA students that they’ve been subject to a scam like this,” Kowalski said.
When a person responds to the scam, they are sent a counterfeit check in the mail or by email. The scammer instructs them to deposit the check and then withdraw some of the funds to send to a “vendor,” for equipment or software necessary for the job. Later the bank determines the check to be fraudulent.
“Enclosed is your first check. Please cash the check, take $300 out as your pay, and send the rest to the vendor for supplies,” reads the FBI Alert, as an example of what this type of scam may look like.
The alert warns about several consequences of being involved with this type of scam including having to reimburse the bank, having the person’s bank account closed or being vulnerable to identity theft.
“If the deal or a job sounds too good to be true it usually is,” Kowalski said. “You should really be careful for any outside entity job that is asking you to deposit money then forward it on to a supplier or another account … You should only be paid for your goods and not have to send anything back to another party.”
For every one legitimate job posted online, there are about 60 to 70 fraudulent jobs. Only 48 percent of people who responded stated that they were “on guard” for scams while searching for jobs, according to a FlexJobs survey of 2,600 people in 2015.
“In this day and age, information is knowledge, and knowledge is money to people all across the world,” Kowalski said. “Anytime that anyone is asking for personal information and you don’t know them—be cautious.”