During this back-to-school season, many college students are on the lookout for flexible, part-time employment to help cover their school expenses. If this describes you or a student in your life, watch out for scams. BBB Scam Tracker (BBB.org/ScamTracker) has gotten reports of employment cons impersonating professors and university departments.
How the Scam Works
You receive an email to your school email address encouraging you to apply for a job. The message appears to come from your school’s job placement office, student services department, or even a specific professor. The position – it may be anything from pet sitting to secret shopping — sounds perfect for a college student. The work is easy, has flexible hours, and offers excellent pay.
When you reply to the message, things start to get strange. The “employer” hires you without an interview. Then, they send you a check with instructions to deposit it before you’ve ever done any work. 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. Part of what you purchase should be sent to your new employer. The rest of the money will be your payment.