Bogus student jobs are just one of thousands of scams costing $1.3 billion: Internet Scambusters #776
Phony student jobs are just one of thousands of crimes reported to the FBI and costing $1.3 billion every year.
In this week's issue, we'll explain how to avoid the latest student work scam, and highlight the main issues in the FBI's annual cybercrime report.
We also have a warning for used car buyers after the Texas floods.
Let's get started...
FBI Issues Warning About Fake Student Jobs
The FBI has issued an alert about the latest student job scams, warning that victims could face dire consequences if they fall for the crooks' tricks.
The scammers post fake job ads on college employment websites or email students directly.
Often, the ads describe "administrative" positions, which turn out to be a front for an advance payment scam. The victim gets a check they're supposed to deposit and then transfers a portion back to the crooks via a money-wire service, before the original check is revealed as a dud.
The FBI alert provides examples of the sort of wording in the fake job offers.
(Begin FBI examples)
"You will need some materials/software and also a time tracker to commence your training and orientation and also you need the software to get started with work. The funds for the software will be provided for you by the company via check. Make sure you use them as instructed for the software and I will refer you to the vendor you are to purchase them from, okay."
"I have forwarded your start-up progress report to the HR Dept. and they will be facilitating your start-up funds with which you will be getting your working equipment from vendors and getting started with training."
"Enclosed is your first check. Please cash the check, take $300 out as your pay, and send the rest to the vendor for supplies."
(End FBI examples)
This is an old trick but, sadly, there's been no shortage of victims who've fallen for it.
The result, says the Bureau, is that a student's bank account could be closed because of fraudulent activity and their credit record could be marked down.
But that's not all.
"The scammers often obtain personal information from the student, while posing as their employer, leaving them vulnerable to identify theft," the FBI warns.
Avoiding this scam involves one simple step.
As we frequently warn, a job that involves receiving and banking a check and then wiring part of the money to someone else, is always a scam. Just don't do it.
Poor English in the wording of emails and job descriptions is also a big clue that a scam is on the way.
If you've already fallen victim to this scam, report it to the FBI via the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
FBI's Top 10 Cybercrimes
Staying with IC3, the agency has recently published its annual Internet crime report for 2016 revealing losses of $1.3 billion across the U.S. from more than 298,000 reported incidents.
However, it's likely these figures are just a fraction of the actual number of Internet fraud crimes, many of which are unreported. The FBI believes only one in every six cybercrimes ever gets reported to them.
If this is true, annual losses could easily exceed $7 billion.
The top cybercrime for the year was "non-payment/non-delivery," which refers to when scammers buy things online and never pay for them, or when legitimate buyers pay for an item that they never receive.
These scams accounted for almost a quarter of all cybercrime. The rest of IC3's Top 10 cybercrimes (with highest numbers first) are:
- Loss of personal information through data breaches
- Fake jobs
- Extortion (such as blackmail threats or virtual/fake kidnapping)
- Identity theft
- Harassment and threats of violence (often associated with dubious debt collection agencies)
- Credit card fraud
- Advance fee fraud
- Romance scams
Other scams reported to the agency include government impostors, fake tech support, phony lotteries, and ransomware/malware.
However, the costliest scams paint a different picture, with business email scams (where firms are tricked into diverting bill payments to the scammers) taking the top slot, with losses of more than $360 million.
And, shockingly, romance scams were in second place, costing victims almost $220 million!
Sadly, there's no sign of a let-up in the scale of cybercrime. Says Scott Smith, assistant director of the FBI's Cyber Division: "With each passing day, cyber intrusions are becoming more sophisticated, dangerous, and common. We continue to transform and develop in order to address the persistent and evolving cyber threats we face."
As our opening report about fake student work shows, many crimes actually involve several of the scams in the FBI list. Download the full report: 2016 Internet Crime Report.
Alert of the Week
Looking to buy a used car?
In the wake of the tragic floods in Houston and other Texas cities, watch out for disguised flood-damaged vehicles coming onto used car lots or being offered for sale privately.
An estimated 500,000 cars were badly damaged in the floods and should be destined for write-offs, but, inevitably, some of them will find their way into the hands of unscrupulous sellers.
Learn more about how to spot flood-damaged autos here: Scammers Dump Flooded Cars on Unsuspecting Buyers.
That's it for today -- we hope you enjoy your week!
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