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Don’t Fall For a Student Employment Scam
If you receive unsolicited email inviting you to apply for a job that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Information Technology Services (ITS) urges you to be vigilant.
Numerous Syracuse University students have recently reported such scams and several students have fallen victim to them. According to the FBI, scammers continue to target students across the nation. We urge you to be vigilant of rampant, malicious employment scams, whether they’re in your mailbox, or you find them on employment websites.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) says the basic scam works like this:
- Scammers post online job advertisements soliciting college students for various administrative positions.
- The student receives counterfeit checks in the mail or via email and is instructed to deposit the checks into their personal checking account.
- The student is instructed to withdraw the funds from their checking account and send a portion, via wire transfer, to another individual or “vendor.” The money is purportedly for equipment, materials or software necessary for the job.
- Subsequently, the bank confirms the checks are fraudulent.
Examples of such employment scam emails read as follows:
“An advance payment will be made for all purchases and mailing you do for me during your employment time and you are free to resign respectively if you lose interest in working for me. This is a very simple employment … You will only be working for just 4-6 hours weekly not more than 2 hours daily and tasks can be completed at your own convenient time. I would be offering you $450 weekly as your salary.”
“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.”
Unfortunately, students who fall for the scam suffer financial losses. The students’ bank accounts may be closed due to fraudulent activity, and student victims are responsible for reimbursing the bank the amount of the counterfeit checks.
In addition to financial loss, the scammers often obtain personal information such as social security and telephone numbers, physical addresses and email addresses from student victims while posing as their employer, leaving students vulnerable to identity theft.
Be Vigilant. Protect Yourself!
If you receive such a job offer by email, examine it closely. Employment scams begin with experienced con artists posing as recruiters or employers who offer attractive employment opportunities. These criminals frequently work from overseas locations. They often require job seekers to pay them money in advance, usually under the guise of work-at-home, high salary, no experience required, work on your own, shopping or personal assistant, and special vacation or travel arrangements. Here are some tips to help you avoid employment scams:
- Do not pay money up front.
- Do not accept payment for services you have not provided (i.e., as a “pre-payment” of expected services).
- Be cautious of people recruiting from out-of-state, or overseas “while on business,” or unwilling to meet in person.
- Be cautious of email addresses not associated with legitimate businesses.
- Be cautious of people planning to use a third party such as a lawyer, accountant or friend to pay your earnings.
- Be cautious of emails written with poor grammar, lacking proper verb usage and sentence structure, or with text in all caps or in bold font.
- Never send money from a deposited check until it officially clears your bank. Note: It can take several weeks for a fake check to be discovered.
- Never provide credit card or bank account numbers, and be cautious of payments by wire service or courier.
If you receive a suspicious offer or fall victim to an email scam, please forward any related emails to the ITS Information Security team at ITSecurity@listserv.syr.edu and the Department of Public Safety at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, SU email address and contact telephone number.
If you have questions about student employment at Syracuse University contact Student Employment Services at 315.443.2268 or HRSES@syr.edu.
We’ll do what we can to prevent spam and phishing emails from landing in your SU mailbox, but inevitably some will get through. Please, be cautious about the email to which you respond.