Recent scams affecting students – What to watch out for in ads

By Sara Syed, Writer

In the past few months, there have been numerous reports of students falling victim to dishonest schemes that could possibly leave students in thousands of dollars in debt.

These dishonest schemes, or scams, can victimize unsuspecting students.

One of the most well-known places where students are scammed is on Craigslist.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there is a “dangerous and growing swindle called the check overpayment scam, now the fifth most common telemarketing fraud and the fourth most reported common Internet scam” occurring that has even found its way to The University of Akron.

In a recent edition of The Buchtelite, scammers behind the check overpayment scam advertised needing a personal assistant offering $250 per week to students for part-time work.

With the check overpayment scam, the scammer typically sets up a believable deal with a victim where the unknowing victim is asked to exchange some type of work and is paid ahead of time with an agreed amount. However, the unknowing victim receives the payment, plus more, in a check sent via priority shipping to the address the victim sends.

With this scheme, the sender typically sends a few thousand more than agreed upon and tells the victim to send the leftovers to a specified address via Western Union.

Any eager college student receiving a check for $2,500 (an example of a check that a student did receive) will likely cash the check and keep the funds or send the rest via Western Union.

Either way, if a student does anything with these checks then that student will end up owing the money back to the bank where it was cashed.

These checks are fraudulent checks and once the bank realizes that there are no funds backing the check, the bank will come back and ask the victim to replenish the funds.

This scam happens often on Craigslist where students post ads to sell items, cars, services, and more. Eager students will respond to these ads only to receive fake checks.

Another common scam that is happening now is a fake IRS call.

Scammers with access to people’s personal and financial information are calling people across America and are demanding money. They threaten victims by impersonating the IRS and tell victims that they can face jail time or repossession of their house if the outrageous fines are not paid.

In general, a rule of thumb to follow is that if it seems too good to be true, it most likely is. It is never safe to send personal information over the internet, even when people are offering money.

It seems like common sense but scams are becoming so realistic that it is important for students to research before committing to any business agreement, especially online or via the telephone.

Students who are in this position or have responded to the personal assistant ad from (x) week’s paper should not cash a check if they’ve received one and report the check to the police immediately.