Watch out for employment scams targeting post-secondary students, says BBB

Fake-cheque scheme is among ploys aimed at young adults

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College students on the hunt for part-time jobs to cover their school expenses are being warned to look out for potential scams, according to the Better Business Bureau.

The BBB says it has received reports from B.C. students who say they’ve received fraudulent employment opportunities from people claiming to be professors or university departments.

“With the business community still trying to get back on its feet and many other people still out of work, finding a job has become more competitive and there is added pressure to find a good one quickly,” stated the BBB serving mainland British Columbia, in a press release.

According to the BBB, the scam involves college-aged students receiving an email from someone purporting to be from their school’s job placement office, student services department, or even a professor offering a part-time job, from pet sitting to secret shopping – something that might be a perfect fit for a young adult who is studying and looking for flexible, part-time work.

After replying to the email expressing interest, victims of the scam have reported they are then “hired” without going through an interview and then received a cheque in the mail even before they’d performed any work.

The victims are then instructed to use the money to purchase gift cards, money orders, prepaid debit cards and other supplies they say you will need for the new job, even going as far as to say that part of what is purchased should be sent back to the new employer, according to the BBB.

“Unfortunately, the cheque that they received was fake. The victims were notified by their bank within a day or two after making the deposit. Any money, gift cards or supplies that were sent to the ‘employer’ are gone for good,” the release states. “Furthermore, the scammers now also have valuable personal information that was submitted during the application and onboarding process.”

In order to avoid falling victim to these college employment scams, the BBB warns post-secondary students to: do you research before saying yes to a potential employer; beware of red flags, such as typos or grammatical errors, when messaging with a potential employer; be wary if the company uses a free email account; never deposit unexpected or suspicious cheques; and never send money to strangers.