FBI: “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
The employer would send a letter: “Enclosed is your first check. Please cash the check, take $300 as your pay and send the rest to the vendor for supplies.” The students who had just started working for him would deposit this check into their personal bank account and later withdraw a sizable amount as instructed. By the time they would get the notification from their bank, it would be too late.
They would have fallen victim to a common scam like the ones that FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center warned about in a recent alert circulated around American colleges. Scam artists target college students, most likely international ones, preying upon their effort to find a job.
There are countless examples. Last year, an NYIT student from Old Westbury received a call from an alleged immigration officer who threatened to have the student deported unless he agreed to be picked up from his house, dropped off at the closest bank and deposit a certain amount to Homeland Security. According to the Director of Security at Old Westbury, Anthony Repalone, “information that students share on social media is a common denominator in all cases… These criminals are sophisticated and highly technical people,” he adds, asking students to be extremely cautious.”
Employment scams were fifth on the list with the top reported scams of 2016, according to the Better Business Bureau. The agency tracked down 1,773 cases across the country.
At NYIT, Student Employment Services screens each job before posting to Career Net. The Dean of Career Services, John Hyde, has been vetting potential employers and job postings for ten years. “They even know how to beat us,” he says. “We have been alerted to things that we made slip through our net.”
On the computer screen in front of him, more than 30 jobs were waiting for his approval. To determine if a company is valid or not, he and his staff make phone calls, check business websites and validate businesses on Glassdoor. “In a recent posting we did not approve,” he explains. “They asked for ‘fresh graduates.’ We would rather see that be ‘entry-level.’ That is already a trigger for us to look further into the company.” In another case, “they would include ‘all majors.’ When we called the potential employer for further details, he did not exist. We made him inactive but as soon as he comes back online, we will alert the FBI and our security people on campus.”
“I am personally worried about students babysitting at people’s homes, tutoring, and working at someone’s home doing drawings for interior design or architecture. I do not feel they are safe in these jobs,” he says.
John urges students to consider every job offer with a skeptical eye, ask for advice or help at Career Services and always keep in mind, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”