Bamboozled January 26, 2017: Job scam targets college students

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Scammers use trickery to steal money from would-be job applicants. (ThinkStock.com)

It’s an oldie, but a goodie — at least according to scammers who use phony job offers to steal from college students.

Please share this with your younger loved ones and make sure they don’t fall victim.

It goes like this:

The con artists post fake administrative job opportunities on college employment websites. They may also show up on social media and on sites such as Craigslist.

There are have even been scams in which the job offer seems to come from the college’s internal email address, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

When the student applies for the job, the fake employer will explain the student needs certain software, books or supplies, and that the items need to be purchased from a specific vendor. But no worries, they say, the employer will pay for it.

Here are some examples of the explanation, the FBI said:

“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.”

“I have forwarded your start-up progress report to the HR Dept. and they will be facilitating your start-up funds with which you will be getting your working equipment from vendors and getting started with training.”

“Enclosed is your first check. Please cash the check, take $300 out as your pay, and send the rest to the vendor for supplies.”

So the scammer sends the student a check to cover the amount, plus some extra for the student’s first week’s pay. Then, the student makes the deposit and either writes a check or wires money to the recommended vendor.

But then the fake employer’s check bounces, and the scammer, who is also the vendor, now has real money that came from the student’s account.

And, the student is on the hook to reimburse the bank for the money sent to the phony vendor.

The consequences for the student can go beyond losing the money, the FBI said.

“The student’s bank account may be closed due to fraudulent activity and a report could be filed by the bank with a credit bureau or law enforcement agency,” the FBI said.

The incident could adversely affect the student’s credit. And now the scammer has the student’s personal information, which leaves them vulnerable to identity theft.

To protect yourself, the FBI says you should never accept a job that requires depositing checks into your account or wiring money to anyone.

If you get an offer, look for tells.

“Many of the scammers who send these messages are not native English speakers,” the FBI said. “Look for poor use of the English language in emails such as incorrect grammar, capitalization, and tenses.”

If you receive any suspicious emails, forward them to your college’s IT department and report it to the FBI. You can do that here.

Also note that college students aren’t the only ones who are targeted by these kinds of scams. We’ve seen it happen for babysitter and dog walker jobs, and we’ve even seen some in which the bad guys impersonate well-known companies like Amazon.

Also beware of so-called re-shipping scams  and mystery shopper scams, which come in several varieties.

And here’s a look at some other scams that target college students.

Have you been Bamboozled? Reach Karin Price Mueller at Bamboozled@NJAdvanceMedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KPMueller. Find Bamboozled on Facebook. Mueller is also the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Stay informed and sign up for NJMoneyHelp.com’s weekly e-newsletter.