NOTICE: Student part-time job scam

Monday, November 26, 2018

This information was sent to the IT Security Community and Frontline Notify (FLN) groups via email on November 26, 2018.

A number of U-M students recently received a scam email telling them about a fake research job they can do in their spare time to earn extra money. We have been informed that the email may have been sent to many students at U-M.

Those who reply and express interest are asked to provide detailed contact and identity  information (address, date of birth, and so on). The scammers then may send a fake check or money order to "cover start up wages" and "carry out your first assignment." In this particular scam, the check is for $1,500-2,000. Next, the student may be asked to "return" some of the money via gift cards, wire transfer, or other means.

This Scam Targets University Students

Many universities have reported similar scams:

Clues that This Is a Scam

  • Generic. The greeting may be "Dear student." The scammers typically claim to have gotten the student's email address from a "school directory."
  • Unsolicited. The email refers to a job the student did not apply for. 
  • High wages for little work. The "wages" offered are unusually high, and the job duties are vague. You may be offered money before doing any work.
  • Money before job begins. The scammers send a large check (which turns out to be fake) before you begin work. No legitimate employer will send payment in advance and ask the employee to send a portion of it back.
  • Unknown "employer." A web search for the supposed employer will usually return nothing or a site with limited information stolen from other sites and riddled with errors.
  • Requests for information and money. Always be suspicious of requests for personal information. Be especially suspicious of requests for your banking information and for money via gift cards and other methods that are difficult to trace.
  • Spelling and grammar errors. The emails offering jobs you did not apply for tend to have numerous spelling and grammar errors.

Local banks are aware of the scam, and we are not aware of any students who have lost money to it. Nonetheless, we ask that you share this information with students in your unit as you think appropriate to help raise awareness of the scam.