Student loses $2K to email fraud trickery

A Chico State student recently lost $2,000 after a fradulent email was sent to their university account, according to an announcement by the University Police Department.

University police circulated an announcement Monday warning students to be wary of a fictional grant advertised in an email that was sent to multiple student accounts.

The email, titled “Zart Assistant Grant for Prospective and Current Students,” purported to offer students “real financial assistance” for students pursuing “all fields of study,” and promised “hundreds of awards” would be given out.

Email scams are very common on campuses nationwide and even worldwide, said University Police Lt. Corinne Beck.

In Chico, the scams are not regularly reported to university police.

“My understanding is that we have not heard from any other students who received this email,” said Beck.

In email scams, the recipient is typically asked to cash a check and wire a large sum of money to a third location, Beck said.

Over the years, Beck has investigated about 15 to 20 of these email fraud cases, many of them with different premises, she said. They often tell the recipient that they’ve won a prize and need to pay a small sum to claim the award in full.

“If you’ve truly won something, you don’t need to give something to someone else to claim your prize,” Beck said. “That’s the biggest red flag. I think that anything that seems to be too good to be true, they need to stop and slow down.”

It’s hard to track down cybercriminals because of the anonymous nature of the Internet, she said. If victims contact police before they give money away, then the crime can be prevented. But it’s hard to recover money that’s been lost.

“I can’t remember a time where somebody has gotten something back,” she said.

University police advise students not to open any emails that look like they may be suspicious, Beck said.

 

Aubrey Crosby can be reached at [email protected] or @aubreycrosby on Twitter.