Work-from-home schemes targeting college students amid coronavirus, Florida AG warns

Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is warning college students across the state of a work-from-home scheme that has started to circulate among the millions of unemployed residents across the state.

Through emails that appear to be sent from a college or university, Moody says schemers are targeting students. the AG says they’re advertising remote employment in an administrative position as they collect personal information while claiming to be a university representative.

Students would then receive counterfeit checks via email or physical mail with instructions to deposit the checks into a personal checking account. Moody says the schemers then direct the student to withdraw the money and make a payment that they claim is necessary for the job.

Usually, after the student sends the money, the checks are confirmed to be fraudulent by the bank, Moody says.

Students then risk banks closing their accounts and face a report filed by the bank with a credit bureau or law enforcement agency, impacting their credit and making the student responsible to reimburse the bank for the amount of the check.

The AG’s office provided the following tips to avoid these types of employment schemes:

  • Research the company before accepting any job offer. Does the company have a professional website and legitimate contact information? Search for what others are saying about experiences with the company
  • If the solicitor is communicating via email, locate contact information for the sender through the school’s website and confirm whether the job offer is real
  • Look for red flags, such as typos and grammatical errors. Offers of employment or pay without an interview are another sign of an employment scheme
  • Never send funds in the form of cash, checks, gift cards or wire transfers to secure a job or as part of an assigned duty by a new employer.

“During the COVID-19 crisis and resulting economic downturn, Floridians are looking for work, and it is unconscionable that scammers are exploiting these times of uncertainty to prey on our college students,” Moody said in a statement. “Students who fall victim to this scam could face serious repercussions to their financial stability and credit record. I am urging all students currently enrolled at Florida colleges and universities to take extra precaution when receiving online job offers.”

If you believe you are the victim of hacking or a COVID-19 related scheme, you should contact the Florida Attorney General’s Office at 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or MyFloridaLegal.com.

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