Students at Florida A&M University have been receiving job opportunities through their FAMU email account. The email comes through from a FAMU affiliated email allowing it to bypass the university’s cyber security measures. The offers of high pay and immediate hire draws students into the promises of being a secret shopper or a personal assistant for the university.
The job offer seems like an opportunity of a lifetime, but it is too good to be true. The university was made aware of the scam from a local bank’s security unit that found students falling into the advertised trap. Right before the Thanksgiving break students received an email from FAMU INFO about the job scam. The email warns students to beware of these job offers and those that advertise similar benefits.
The email explains the scam process once students agree to the false promises. The warning states, “The scammer sends the student a check, usually $2,000. The student is directed to deposit the check into their bank account. The student then takes a portion of the funds and purchases a gift card(s). The student gives the number on the gift card to the scammer.”
After a few days, the bank associated with the student’s account finds the check to be counterfeit. This leaves the student responsible for the amount deposited after the bank deducts it from the student’s account. The email warns that in some cases, students could face criminal prosecution in addition to financial repercussion for involvement in the scam.
This job scam is especially dangerous for eager graduates looking to make some money or find employment before commencement rolls around. Fall 2019 graduate Vanessa Valme responded to the ad looking to make a quick buck.
“So I got the email, and like anybody, I saw an opportunity for easy money and thought to jump on it,” Valme said.
Yet, it didn’t take long for Valme to realize that what she had to do was sketchy.
“She told me she’d send me a check and then I would run errands for her. I took my time to retrieve the check from my mailbox because for one, I work full time and part time to go to school. So I never really had time unless I made time,” Valme added. “Her last text message to me was basically accusing me of stealing her money and that’s when I just knew something was wrong.”
Once FAMU sent the email warning about the scam, Valme cut all ties with the scammer. The scam also reached Valme’s job with the state.
A public service announcement released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2017 also warned about job scammers targeting college students. Some tips that the FBI offered include: Never accept a job that requires depositing checks into your account, look for poor use of the English language in emails and forward suspicious emails to the college’s IT personnel.
FAMU’s IT department has since gotten rid of these job scam ads from students’ email accounts. The FAMU INFO email advises to contact Roger Kennedy with Regions Bank at 850-872-7187 for further information.