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Proofpoint: Bioscience Job Scams Target Universities

In a recent blog post, cybersecurity company Proofpoint identified several e-mail scam campaigns targeting university student job hunters, promising interviews for lucrative jobs in biosciences, healthcare, and biotechnology.

The fraudulent job e-mail lures began as early as March 2023 and continued through June 2023, the company said. Messages came from different senders, with common ones being russ@valentbiosciencescareers[.]com, linda@ensyscecareers[.]com, or robin@agcbiocareers[.]com. E-mail subjects included the word "interview."

In the e-mail, students were asked to have a video or chat job interview for remote entry jobs, with an attached PDF about the supposed hiring company, job position, salary, and equipment requirements.

But the real goal was to ensnare applicants in "advanced fee fraud," Proofpoint said. The scam involves the applicant either paying a fee in advance for computer equipment or supplies (which never materialized) and being promised reimbursement with their first paycheck, or being sent a check to purchase equipment, which would then bounce.

"Universities tend to be frequent targets of employment scams," Proofpoint said. "Students are likely more open to flexible, remote work opportunities; international students may not recognize telltale signs of fraudulent e-mails as well as native English speakers; and rising inflation and cost of education is putting the pinch on students' finances, making the promise of quick cash more attractive."

The blog post emphasized, "Legitimate employers will never send paychecks before an employee's first day of work, nor will they ask employees to send money to purchase items prior to work beginning."

Other warning signs of a fraudulent job offer scam are outlined, and the post provides a list of known fraudulent domains from which they have been sent.

For more information, read the blog post.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.

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