When you're a student you're always on the lookout for the highest paying and best jobs. This, unfortunately, makes students a great target for being ripped off. Case in point, there's a new job posting scam targeting Canadian university students right now. The latest victim is Carleton University.
Students at Carleton are being warned by campus security there to immediately delete a phishing email that's currently going around the school. The email reportedly has a subject line of "Part-Time Personal Assistant Needed." While it may look like a job posting email, campus security is warning that it's actually a scam.
They are now warning anyone who received the email not to respond or call the phone number listed. They especially caution that you don't give out any personal information like your name or address. Instead, campus safety says you should delete the email immediately. If you have already responded they want you to contact technology services at Carleton.
A fake job posting scam may seem somewhat harmless, but it's actually part of an even bigger scam that has been targeting people across North America for years. These fake job posting, especially for personal assistant positions can end up costing students thousands of dollars.
Essentially there are two main ways these types of scams could get you in trouble. The first is that you could end up in legal trouble by becoming an unknowing participant in money laundering.
In this scenario, acting as the scammers personal assistant you would be given a cheque and told to deposit the funds and then send the money somewhere else, which you might be fooled into thinking is a charity or some other type of organization. What's actually happening is you were sent dirty money (funds acquired by crime) and you cleaned it in your account and then sent it back to the scammers without knowing it.
Another way this scam could end up costing you is financially. This uses the same ruse as the first one, with having to cash a cheque to send elsewhere, but in this case, the cheque is actually fake and you end up sending your own money to the scammers thinking it's going somewhere else.
This second scenario actually happened to a university student in North Dakota recently. After taking a "personal assistant" job with someone posing as a professor, she lost almost $4000 because of a fake cheque.
There's a reason for why these scams target want-to-be personal assistants as well. First, personal assistant positions are in high demand meaning that people will jump on these opportunities.
The second is that this type of work involves doing everyday tasks for your employer, so people who think they are working as personal assistants aren't always suspicious when they are asked to deposit a cheque or to forward money.
To avoid these personal assistant scams, one career website warns job-seekers to be cautious of any posting where they mention that forwarding money will be one of your regular tasks. They also recommend that you very carefully research any potential employer to make sure they are legit.
As for avoiding phishing scams via email, Carleton University's safety department says to look out for subject lines in all caps, grammar or spelling errors, and anything that asks you to send your password or personal information, especially via a link.