New Student Scams Exploit Need for Cash

“Card cracking” is latest student scam: Internet Scambusters #609

Making ends meet is not easy for college-goers, which makes them a sure target for a student scam.

Sometimes the offer of easy cash can be too tempting, or what seems to be a legitimate IT message is so convincing that they walk straight into a trap.

But if you’re wise to the latest tricks, as we report in this week’s issue, you can avoid these scams and get on with the work-and-fun side of college life.

Now, here we go…

New Student Scams Exploit Need for Cash

Student life is a challenging experience for most people — and as first semesters get under way, student scams could make it a whole lot tougher.

Although we’ve written about college scams before in 5 College Scam Tricks That Will Hurt Your Wallet, Your Education or Your Reputation, crooks are constantly looking for new con tricks.

For example…

The Card Cracking Scam

Although this could affect anyone, students are said to be the main targets for this scam in which they receive a message on a social media site inviting them to allow their bank account to be used to process a check.

The victim is promised half the proceeds but, of course, they must provide their account details to the scammer for the check to be deposited.

Many students are usually hard up, so they’re easily lured into the offer of what seems like money-for-nothing.

The crooks create a plausible excuse for also needing the victim’s debit card personal identification number (PIN).

Then they deposit a counterfeit check into the victim’s account and swiftly withdraw most of it using a forged debit card.

In some cases, victims actually met with the scammers at an ATM and handed over their cards to the crooks.

Once the bank discovers the check is a fake, the student is responsible for any money that’s been withdrawn.

In yet other instances, students have been tempted into selling their card numbers and PINs in nightclubs.

The crooks deposit a counterfeit check and withdraw the entire amount, telling the students they can report their cards as stolen after a short time so they won’t then be responsible for the loss from their account.

Of course, this conspiracy is illegal and the student could end up in court as a result.

Action: Keep your card details to yourself!

Bogus Help Desk Message

Meanwhile, back on campus, there’s another alert.

Several colleges report that students are receiving malicious emails that appear to come from either the college IT Department’s Help Desk or the college library.

The Help Desk message, seen most recently at the University of Florida, tells users they have to change their college webmail information. It supplies a link that enables hackers to collect sign-on details, which may be used for ID theft.

Similarly, the library scam, which resurfaced recently at University of Nebraska, asks recipients to validate their sign-on information, which again is used for ID theft.

Action: It’s unlikely that college departments would send out messages like this, though they may email you with a reminder to change your password.

Don’t use any links in emails like this. Log on to your account independently to check for change requirements or give the relevant department a quick phone call.

If you think you’ve already been caught out, contact the college IT department.

No Talent

Students are also being targeted by bogus “talent scouts” claiming to work for a legitimate men’s magazine.

The scammers say that the magazine is planning to produce a special college issue and invites female students to submit photos of themselves.

Over a series of subsequent messages, the scammer gives the impression the victim has been selected to be featured in the mag, and requests further, more revealing photos.

The crook also suggests that the more pictures the young woman submits, the more likely they are to be published.

The crook may even ask for some real risque photos to help editors select the final “candidates.”

In fact, the photos are subsequently used for extortion — victims are told they’ll appear on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet.

Action: This is a college variation of a well-known scam. Simply don’t provide to anyone photos that you wouldn’t want the general public to see.

And, of course, also check independently with the supposed intended publisher that the request is genuine.

Advance Fees

Returning to the theme of money-making, the University of North Carolina and Wingate University report a student variation of the well-known advance fee scam, in which the victim receives a check and then has to wire part of the payment to a third party.

In this latest incident, students were offered part-time work supposedly paying $300 a week.

It’s not clear exactly what the job is supposed to be but students who show an interest receive a check for around $2,000 and then have to wire all but $300 to another recipient.

As usual — and as in the case we started this issue with — the check turns out to be bogus and the student is left with a debt to clear.

Action: Don’t even bother banking checks that come with a request to wire the balance. It’s 100% a student scam. And never wire money to someone you don’t know.

Alert of the Week: If you get an email supposedly from the U.S. Postal Service about a missed package delivery — beware!

Don’t click on the attachment that claims to be a label that you take to your local Post Office to collect the item. It’s a virus.

If you’re not in when the mailman or woman tries to deliver a package that can’t be left in your mailbox or on the step, they’ll leave a printed note. USPS doesn’t email messages like this.

That’s all for today — we’ll see you next week.