Security

U of Florida Advises Students to be Wary of Employment Scams

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) last month issued an alert that college students across the United States seeking jobs were being targeted by an employment scam that involves phony job opportunities and counterfeit checks. To ensure its own students would not be targeted, the University of Florida today issued a warning to its students to be cautious of fake online job postings.

The FBI’s Crime Complaint Center (IC3) found that students were being duped by fake advertisements and online posts on college job boards. Once a student showed interest in applying, scammers would send e-mails like the following:

"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."

Scammers would then send the student a counterfeit check to supposedly purchase the items mentioned in the e-mail. Students were instructed to deposit the check into their accounts and asked to wire a portion of the money to another individual, described as a “vendor.”

Those who participated in the scam faced a range of unintended consequences – from having their bank account closed due to fraudulent activity to full-fledged identity theft.

As a result, the FBI recommended that students never accept a job that requires depositing checks into their account and wiring portions to other individuals’ accounts. Additionally, the FBI pointed out that many of the individuals behind the scams are not native English speakers, so students should be wary of poor grammar and misspelling of common words in e-mails. Lastly, the bureau recommended forwarding any suspicious e-mails to the college’s IT department, as well as to report the incident to the FBI at www.IC3.gov.

UF’s Information Security Office answered the FBI’s call to action, advising students to report suspicious e-mails directly to abuse@ufl.edu. Additionally, IT staffers compiled a list of tips and useful resources for students to learn more and protect themselves against malicious internet activity. E-mail, for example, is often used as the first point of contact by criminals, so the office devoted a section to e-mail that briefs students on phishing, identity theft and scams, unwanted spam and more.

The complete “Protect Yourself” page is available on the UF site here.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at sravipati@1105media.com.

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