SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) UC Santa Cruz police said law enforcement around the country is seeing more students becoming victims of online employment scams, especially since so many studying from home and looking for a chance to earn extra money.
Police said the scammers send a message to the student's school email address encouraging them to apply for a job. They said the message looks like it is coming from a campus job-placement office, student services department or a professor and the job could range from pet sitting to secret shopping. The work will sound easy with flexible hours and good pay, according to police.
When the student replies, the "employer" hires them without an interview, according to police, and the student is sent a check with instructions to deposit it before any work has been done. The student is then told to use the money to buy gift cards, money orders or other supplies for the job.
Part of what the student buys is then sent to the employer and the student gets to keep the rest as payment. Police said the checks are fake, which the bank will notice soon after it is deposited. Any money sent to the scammer is gone.
To avoid the scams, police suggest doing your research before accepting any job. Students should look for a professional website, contact information and what others are saying about their experience with the company.
Police also suggest looking for red flags like typos or grammatical errors in emails. They also said reputable businesses will not hire without an interview and pay before you have done any work.
Police say not to send cash, checks, gift cards, wire transfers or any other form of funding to someone you do not know.