BBB warns of employment scams targeting college students


September 20, 2023

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BBB warns of employment scams targeting college students

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) started last week warning students who seek part-time employment or flexible work hours of scams that put their identity and finances at risk. Some of the most recent schemes involve scammers posing as professors or other faculty members who target students via their college email addresses and encourage them to apply for a job.

The agency says scammers can list a variety of jobs (that pay extremely well) during their “recruitment” process, including pet sitting, mystery shopping or even research assistant positions.

“You receive an email to your school email address encouraging you to apply for a job,” the BBB said. “The message appears to come from your school’s job placement office, student services department, or even a specific professor.”

Once students take the bait and send their resume, they are hired without interviews and are sent a check with instructions on how to deposit it without actually doing any “work.” Once deposited, students are told to buy prepaid debit cards or gift cards of a certain value and keep any remaining money as payment.

“You are instructed to use this money to purchase gift cards, money orders, prepaid debit cards, or other supplies you’ll need for your new job,” the BBB explained. “Part of what you purchase should be sent to your new employer. The rest of the money will be your payment.”

“However, the check is a fake. I can take weeks for your bank to discover the fraud. By then, any money you send to your ‘employer’ is gone for good, and you're stuck paying back the bank. In addition, the scammers now have your personal information.”

One student reported the ordeal via the BBB’s Scam Tracker tool. According to the student, the scammer, posing as a faculty member, was offering a research assistant position at the recipient’s educational institution.

“I received a message via my school email about a job opportunity with a professor,” the student explained. “I reached out to the number and was asked for my resume and a non-school email. When I asked questions about the position, I was told the school would pay for my expenses and I would receive materials from them.”

The imposter then asked for the name of the student’s bank and additional details to determine whether they could deposit checks.

“They asked what bank I used and if I could deposit checks into my account,” the student added. “When I asked for the professor’s email, the person said they were the professor. However, when I reached out to the professor personally, he said he was not looking for a research assistant and that I must have been dealing with scammers.”

Here’s how to avoid employment scams during your college years

· Watch for red flags within the correspondence of any unsolicited job proposal. Scammers’ messages may be riddled with typos or grammatical errors and offer you a job with no proper recruitment process or interview.

· Never give out sensitive information to individuals offering you a too-good-to-be-true job

· Never send money or deposit checks for strangers who offer you a job. No legitimate business, recruitment agency or agency will ask you to send funds, checks, gift cards or transfer money

· Be wary of secret shopper or reshipping packages jobs, these are very likely scams

· Research the job positions or businesses before committing to a job

If your personal or college email addresses are exposed online, chances are that you’ll also become the target of scams and other fraudulent schemes. To limit your risks and safeguard your identity, use Bitdefender Digital Identity Protection.

The dedicated identity protection tool maps out your digital footprint, allowing you to easily manage personal data and assess personal data exposure and privacy risks, by offering a trouble-free way to understand how security breaches can individually affect you.

You won’t just stay on top of data breaches and leaks with 24/7 data breach monitoring and real-time alerts for privacy threats, but also truly understand the extent of the digital you and how you can minimize your exposure and limit any potential or reputational harm.




Alina is a history buff passionate about cybersecurity and anything sci-fi, advocating Bitdefender technologies and solutions. She spends most of her time between her two feline friends and traveling.

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