CU Students: Victims of Email Scams
December 23, 2013
Recently, students are being sent emails regarding “easy” jobs that they can do via the internet. Many of them have been experiencing a large number of incidences of fraud occurring via these email scams, in which they were being offered checks or money orders for things they are selling online, such as iPads, bikes, phones, etc.
Here is an example: the checks that the students are sent are in excess of what they are selling the item for. The sender instructs the students to deposit the check into their bank account and immediately send them the difference. The sender usually explains this by saying the extra funds are related to shipping or that they accidentally wrote the check for the wrong amount or some other bogus reason. According to Michael Lowry, Sergeant of CU Boulder, the fake checks are often times around $2,000, and fraudsters usually ask people to return the extra funds via U.S. Postal Service, money order, Western Union, or MoneyGram.
Lowry said that these scams are definitely illegal, and he speculated that they reason that many students are involved into these types of scams is because they believed in the “possibility of easy money.” Lowry is currently investigating four cases, in which the suspect in one case mailed 300 packages. These scam emails often times contain many spelling and punctuation errors, a definite red flag as many of these scams originate outside the U.S. By the time the students find out the check was fraudulent, they have already sent the money and very often the item too.
This is a serious matter, because it will create a fraud record for those victims of scams. Many of these victims do not understand the consequences. In regards to “potentially easy jobs”, these students could be agreeing to these jobs and then sending personal information back to these fraudsters, such as social security numbers, birth dates, bank account numbers, etc., and then these students could potentially become victims of identity theft. (For more information on identity theft, please see the previous blog.)
The scam artists prey on the elderly and anyone inexperienced enough to not recognize the warning signs of a scam like this. Even if the student is suspicious, many of them are still depositing these checks into their accounts just to see if they will clear. Lowry said that fraudsters like to target freshman, since most of them just started to have a checking account. He advised to students that when they are not sure whether the jobs they are offered are scams or not, they can Google the company’s name and look at their website. Also, they should talk to their friends and parents to get some other opinions on it. “Do you homework. Usually, no one offers you a job without investigation or background check,” he said.
–Yuchen Wu, Student BloggerShare on Facebook