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The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) issued a public service announcement earlier this week, urging college students to remain vigilant of rampant employment scams.

According to the PSA, scammers continue to target students across the US by advertising phony job opportunities on college employment websites or emailing students’ university accounts.

The IC3 explained how the scam is carried out:

  1. Scammers post online job advertisements soliciting college students for administrative positions.
  2. The student receives counterfeit checks in the mail or via email and is instructed to deposit the checks into their personal checking account.
  3. 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.
  4. Subsequently, the bank confirms the checks are fraudulent.

Examples of such employment scam emails read as follows:

“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 student’s bank account may be closed due to fraudulent activity, and the student is responsible for reimbursing the bank the amount of the counterfeit checks.

“The scammers often obtain personal information from the student while posing as their employer, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft,” added the IC3.

Students are advised to forward suspicious emails to their college’s IT personnel, and file a report to the FBI.