FBI Sends Warning to Students of Employment Scams

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) emailed a warning to the University as well as other institutions highlighting the prevalence of employment scams directly targeting college students in an email that was forwarded by Career Services on Feb. 16.

The FBI warned of scams conducted by fake companies posting administrative positions online for college students. In the message the Bureau asserts that students should be leery of any job that requires depositing checks into an account or wiring funds to other individuals or accounts. They also state that many of the scammers who send these messages are not native English speakers, therefore, students should look for incorrect grammar, capitalization, and tenses in scam emails.

The University’s Career Services Center has taken note of these scams. The office responded by sending out a mass email to students relaying information about how students can protect themselves from losing money and personal information in fake employment opportunities.

William Hill, Assistant Dean for Career Services, said, “With the anonymity that the internet allows people to operate in, it’s easier for the bad guys to create [the impression] that they are legitimate businesses when they’re not.”

According to Hill, one of the best ways for Monmouth Students to go about getting legitimate employment is to use the Hawks CareerLink. “Every job has to be approved before it goes on our job board,” said Hill, “It makes catching fraud a lot easier.”

Hill explained that his employees must make sure to get verbal confirmation from employers about openings and make sure to verify all aspects of each listing, such as the website and location of the company, before offering them to University students.

Bill McElrath, Chief of Monmouth University Police Department (MUPD), urges students to contact MUPD if they suspect they are victims of fraud. “If a student reports a scam, we take an initial report and conduct a follow-up investigation. The follow-up might include contacting outside agencies to assist,” he said.

“When we receive information on a scam, we will notify students ourselves, or contact Career Services so that they can contact students about the scam,” continued McElrath.

When addressing the fact that the scam targeted students specifically, William Reynolds, Adjunct Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering said, “Students are maybe a little bit more trusting…whereas people in the workforce have learned to be a little more weary and more critical.” Reynolds also added that he plans to tell students in his IT classes to protect their personal information and be wary of online fraud.

“Never give any important information to recruiters. This would include Social Security numbers and credit card or bank account information,” warns McElrath. “Be leery of postings that guarantee you a job.”

Hill advised students to take precautions to keep scammers from taking advantage of them. “If there’s any employer that refuses to engage with you on the phone, that’s a big flag,” he said. Because many scammers live overseas, they won’t be in favor of in-person meetings with students, which Hill believes is always the best course of action.

In addition Hill said, “If the student is asked to deposit any money on behalf of an organization or company, or is asked to purchase anything on behalf of an organization, that is always suspect because that gets at the heart of how the bad guys get the money.”

After receiving the warning some students have decided to make improvements with their security. “After learning about job listing scams from our Career Services Department, I realized I had to be more careful with the information I give out to prospective employers,” said Kathy Chen, a freshman chemistry student.

“It’s nice to trust people,” said Hill, “But when it involves money or a job, it’s okay to ask questions.”