Fake job offers target UB students

A student studies alone with a laptop in the library at night.

Published October 4, 2017

Increasingly common online scams involving fake job offers are targeting UB students, putting them in financial and legal risk.

The scams work like this: someone contacts you and invites you to apply for a job. These fake offers often involve the handling, transferring, or use of money for seemingly legitimate purposes—sometimes with a large sum offered up front to entice you to respond quickly.

However, the money is an illusion. Although a check for the promised amount may be received by the victim, the check typically bounces or the transfers ultimately fail, leaving the victim unpaid and—worse—owing any money spent or transferred as part of the “work” in question.

Also, the exchanges the victim makes could constitute money laundering or credit card fraud. Therefore, not only could you be responsible for the money by falling for these schemes—you could also be charged with a crime!

These offers prey on young people just entering the job market, often anxious about their job prospects and eager to find gainful employment quickly.

“A good question to ask is, ‘why is somebody paying me this much to do something they could do themselves?’” said Michael Behun Jr., VPCIO HIPAA Privacy and Security Official / UB Computer Discipline Officer. Bottom line: if a job offer seems too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.

To stay safe, Behun recommends students remain skeptical, and do their research.

“Verify the offer by contacting the company directly,” Behun said. “Look them up online. Don’t use the number or email address from the email. Look for a contact in HR, call them up and ask if this is a legitimate job offer.”

“If you’re looking for a legitimate job with this company, this might be your chance to turn a bad situation into a positive,” Behun said. “Tell the HR representative that you did some research into the company, and are interested in applying for real.”

If you think you may have already been the victim of a scam, cease any communication with the perpetrator immediately. Then, change the passwords on any accounts that were involved in the scam. Be sure to contact any financial institutions involved, and make a report to University Police or your local law enforcement. Lastly, file a complaint at the Internet Crime Complaint Center: https://www.ic3.gov

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. For more information on protecting yourself, your identity and your data, visit buffalo.edu/ubit/safe.