NOTICE: Watch for student work-from-home scams

Monday, December 14, 2020

The Michigan Cyber Command Center (MC3) is warning of a multi-part phishing campaign targeting students worldwide involving fake offers of personal assistant jobs that can be done from home. This is a variation on job scams that have been circulating for some time.

In the variation reported by the MC3, compromised accounts at educational institutions—with account addresses ending in .edu—are used to send phishing emails to students. The sender claims to be a doctoral student looking for a personal assistant. If a recipient accepts the fake job offer, they are asked to print and cash a check (which will later bounce) and then to use the money to purchase gift cards for the supposed employer.

Be suspicious of any unsolicited job offer, and follow these tips to protect yourself.

  • Do an online search. Look up the name of the company or the person who’s hiring you, plus the words “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.” You might find out they’ve scammed other people.
  • Never bank on a “cleared” check. No legitimate potential employer will ever send you a check and then tell you to send on part of the money, or buy gift cards with it. That’s a fake check scam. The check will bounce, and the bank will want you to repay the amount of the fake check.
  • Remember that gift cards are for gifts. Anyone who asks you to buy gift cards and send them the redemption codes is a scammer.