Sheldon, Iowa — Sheldon police are warning residents of a new scam that is being pulled on college students.
According to Sheldon Police Officer Jett Korver, the scammer uses college/university student email lists and sends out “job openings”. The Scammers sometimes just post their “job opening” on the college or universities website in their “whose hiring pages”. Almost always the job title is “Personal Assistant”. Once a student responds via email to the scammer, the scammer sends them a fake employment contract complete with wages, etc. The scammer will then tell the victim that they are away on an important business trip. The latest scam reported was a “doctor” who was in Australia helping set up a new pilot project through Amazon helping special needs children.
The scammer tells the victim that they will be paid by email through an online check. The scammer instructs the victim to buy business check paper for their printer. The scammer then sends the victim a check via email and tells the victim to put the business check paper in their printer and print off the check. The scammer has the victim deposit the check and then immediately purchase gift cards from all kinds of places. Amazon, Apple, and Wal-Mart being the most popular. The scammer then tells the victim to send pictures of the gift cards and the receipt to them.
Once the victim sends the gift cards the scammer keeps emailing new “checks” and gives the victim more “assignments”. About a week after the victim cashes these bogus checks the bank will notify the victim that the checks a fraudulent. The money that was spent on gift cards is now lost to the scammer who many times is not even in the United States.
In the latest such scam reported to police the victim is out $6,350.
Pointers to avoid falling victim to such scams:
1. Be on the look-out for job advertisements that are too vague.
2. Check the email address from which the advertisement came. If it is strange or doesn’t even remotely resemble the person or business offering employment there is a good chance the email belongs to a scammer.
3. Any time someone tells you to buy business check paper and that they will email a check to you should be a big red flag. Delete the email and do not respond.
4. Anytime someone sends you a check and asks you to cash it and immediately buy gift cards is a scam. Gift cards are just what their name said they are, gifts, not business capital.
5. Victims should know cases like these are often extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to solve since the Scammer may not even be in the United States. Even so always report the scam to the police!!!
6. When in doubt CALL THE POLICE. Korver says police are there to help and would be happy to lend a listening ear and let you know if the situation you find yourself in is a scam. Any time there is even something slightly “off” about the situation it is better to call and ask, than give information and fall victim to some cowardly scammer.