Easy money? Email scam targets college students

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(Jan. 30, 2015) – College students are almost always looking for ways to make some extra cash.

But they should be on alert for a new scam, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Better Business Bureau.

Emails going to school email accounts are a version of the ever-popular “work-from-home” scam, the BBB said.

The emails offer students a job, saying they can work online in the company’s human resources or payroll departments. The scammers then ask students to accept a payroll deposit in their bank account.

According to the FBI, that “deposit” is actually money stolen from real companies by online thieves, who ask their targets to wire the money to other accounts.

Those who participate in the scam could end up with a frozen bank account or face criminal prosecution, investigators say.

Here’s what the BBB says about the scam:

How the Scam Works:

You receive an email to your school account offering you a job in a company’s payroll or human resources department. The work is simple. All you need to do is receive a “payroll deposit” from the company to your personal bank account. Then, you transfer the money to other accounts. It seems like an easy job for a busy student, and you are tempted to accept the offer.

Don’t do it! Not only is this “job” not what is seems, it’s actually a crime. If you take the position, you will be assisting cyber criminals in transferring stolen money. If you participate, your bank account will be flagged for criminal activity, and you could be prosecuted.

How to Spot a Job Scam: 

Watch out for these phrases: Scam ads or emails often contain the phrases “Teleworking OK,” “Immediate Start” and “No Experience Needed.” Watch out for ads that urge you to apply immediately.

Be very cautious of any job that asks you to share personal banking information. Scammers will often request banking info under the guise of running a credit check, setting up direct deposit or, in this case, using your bank account to transfer funds.

Some positions are more likely to be scams: Always be wary of work from home, secret shopper positions or any job with a generic title, such as admin assistant or customer service representative. These often don’t require special training or licensing, so they appeal to a wide range of applicants.

If a job looks suspicious, search for it online. If the result comes up in many other cities with the exact same job post, it is likely a scam. Also, check the company’s job page to make sure the position is posted there.

Watch out for on-the-spot job offers. You may be an excellent candidate for the job, but beware of offers made without an interview. A real company will want to talk to a candidate before hiring him or her.

For More Information:

Read the full alert on the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center website. To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper.