This section will be updated regularly with new content alerting the university community to current crime trends and offer advice regarding how to avoid becoming a victim.
How does the crime take place?
A potential victim is sent a solicitation via mail, text or email asking the consumer to evaluate their retail experience, products and services at stores. After responding to the ad, the consumer receives an “employment packet” containing a training assignment, a list of products to purchase at various stores and a realistic looking check often for $2,000 to $4,000.
The “training assignment” is for the consumer to deposit the check into the consumer’s bank account, purchase the items on the Shopping List and then use a wire transfer service to send the balance of the check’s proceeds, after the consumer finishes shopping, to an address outside of the US, often in Canada. The check that the consumer deposited in their account is counterfeit, a fact unbeknownst to the consumer. The balance of money sent to the fraudster is real and the consumer is now out that money and is liable for any and all penalties associated with the bounced check.
Should you receive an email soliciting you to become a “Secret Shopper:”
• Don’t open or respond to unsolicited e-mails asking you to become a mystery or secret shopper.
• Never deposit a check you receive in the mail from a “mystery shopping” company. No legitimate business will pay in advance and ask you to send a portion of the money back.
• If you have posted your resume to an online job site, verify with the site any job solicitations you receive.
• Don’t click on or respond to online ads or Web sites offering free gift cards.
• Remember, if it sounds too good to believe, it is!
Pass this information on to at least one other person.
There are multiple scams targeting universities, university employees, and students across the nation. The scams range from Internet fraud to intrusions. The following are common scenarios:
- Spear phishing e-mails are being sent to university employees that appear to be from their employer. The e-mail contains a link and claims some type of issue has risen requiring them to enter their log-in credentials. Once employees provide their user name and password, the perpetrator accesses the university’s computer system to redirect the employees’ payroll allocation to another bank account. The university employees’ payroll allocations are being deposited into students’accounts. These students were hired through online advertisements for work-at-home jobs, and provided their bank account information to the perpetrators to receive payment for the work they performed.
- Scammers are posting online advertisements soliciting college students for administrative positions in which they would receive checks via the mail or e-mail. Students are directed to deposit the checks into their accounts, and then print checks and/or wire money to an individual. Students are never asked to provide their bank account information to the perpetrators.
- Perpetrators are compromising students’ credential resulting in the rerouting of their reimbursement money to other bank accounts. The reimbursement money is from student loans and used to pay tuition, books, and living expenses.
- Perpetrators are obtaining professors’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and using it to file fraudulent income tax returns.
- Some universities have been victims of intrusions, resulting in the perpetrators being able to access university databases containing information on their employees and students.
If you have been a victim of one of these scams or any other Internet related scam, we encourage you to notify Public Safety.