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Back-to-school scam targets college students looking for work, BBB warns

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Posted at 12:32 PM, Sep 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-30 13:32:11-04

It's back-to-school season and there's already a new scam targeting college students, the Better Business Bureau warns.

According to the BBB, the agency has been has received reports of scammers posing as professors and university departments in an attempt to con college students looking for work.

Here's how the scam works.

Students receive a message to their school email asking them to apply for a job opportunity. The email looks like it comes from a school's job placement office, a student services department or even a specific professor. The job being pitched is usually something flexible, easy and appealing to a college student, like pet sitting or secret shopping.

But the opportunity will take a weird turn, the BBB says. The alleged employer will hire you without an interview. Then, a check will be sent with instructions to deposit the money before doing any work. The scammer will instruct "employees" to use the money to buy gift cards, money orders, prepaid debit cards or other things needed for the job. The scammer will tell unsuspecting students that the rest of the money is their payment for the job.

"However, the check is a fake — a detail your bank will let you know a day or two after you deposit it," the BBB says in a news release. "Any money you sent to your 'employer' is gone for good."

The BBB offers the following tips so you don't fall victim to employment scams like this one.

  • Do your research. Before you say yes to any job, research the company that wants to hire you. Does the company have a professional website and legitimate contact information? Search for what others saying about their experience with this company.
  • Beware of red flags. Scammers often send emails with many typos and grammatical errors. They offer to hire you without an interview and even pay you before you’ve done any work. None of these are behaviors of a reputable business.
  • Never send money to strangers. Never send funds in the form of cash, checks, gift cards or wire transfers to someone you don’t know or haven’t met. No legitimate company will ask you to pay them to get a job.