Chico State students have been the recent target of a fraudulent phishing scam that is showing up in their Wildcat email accounts claiming to offer employment.
Sophomore Ariana Baumann had been looking for a job since November when she came across an email from someone offering her $300 a week to file orders for office supplies such as envelopes and stamps.
“I had just received my third rejection call from potential employers in one day when I saw the email,” Bauman said. “It seemed too good to be true, but I was desperate. I really needed the money.”
The email came from an individual claiming to offer part-time employment to students looking for work. Although she realized that it could be a scam, she felt secure because of the fact that It came through her school email, Baumann said.
One red flag for Baumann was the level of English that the individual who sent the email used.
“I noticed that their English wasn’t that great, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt because they said that they were from China,” she said.
“We are China based company that offer incorporation services to our clients all over the globe,” the email said.
Upon exchanging emails and contact information with the individual, Baumann was notified that she would receive a check in the mail. After she had received it, she was instructed to deposit it into her personal account then wire that money to an account at Bank of America.
A bank manager noticed that the account had been used for this scam previously and refused to let her deposit the $400. The manager then informed her to notify her bank immediately.
“(The manager) saved me a lot of trouble.” Baumann said. “I would have been screwed if he would have let me deposit that cash.”
“These scams are a very common occurrence,” said Scott Kodai, manager of Information Technology Support Services.
“We get students coming in every day who are skeptical of the legitimacy of emails,” Kodai said. “Just today I got 12 phishing emails in my own account.”
Since Chico State uses Gmail as its email provider, Google is in charge of handling spam filtering, and they do a great job of it, Kodai said. But even with Google filtering out all of the spam, some will still inevitably get through.
The term used to describe spam emails such as this is called phishing, Kodai said, and the people behind the scams are getting better at what they do.
Because of this, IT Support Services has set up a page specifically for recording all of the different phishing spam that students receive.
Kodai’s advice for students who are concerned that they may be receiving spam is to be skeptical.
“You have to make sure that you check it out before you do anything,” Kodai said. “Students can always contact IT Support Services, and we can help.”
Lt. Corrine Beck of the University Police noted that students should be wary of any email that contains a job offer as they may not recognize it as a spam email right away.
“The criminal element knows that college students are job seekers who may be looking for a first job and may not immediately recognize the ‘red flags’ common in these types of email solicitations,” Beck said.
Baumann wants this to be a learning experience for others so that the same thing doesn’t happen to anyone else, she said.
“I want people to know that if you’re not careful that this can happen to you,” Baumann said. “I got really lucky this time, but that probably won’t be the case for someone else.”
Students who believe that they have received a fraudulent job offer through their Wildcat email account should contact IT Support Services by email at [email protected] or by phone at 530-898-4357.
Austin Redfern can be reached at [email protected] or @austin_redfern on Twitter.