Beware of online employment scams

To: UC Santa Cruz graduate and undergraduate students

From: Nader Oweis, Chief of Police

UC Santa Cruz police urge students to be aware of online employment scams, as authorities nationwide are seeing an uptick in student cases, especially with students studying remotely, with many looking for opportunities to earn some extra money.

Fake employers

The scammers send you an email to your school email address, encouraging you to apply for a job. The message appears to come from a campus job-placement office, student services department, or a professor. The position — ranging from pet sitting to secret shopping — sounds ideal. The work is easy, has flexible hours, and pays well.

When you reply, the “employer” hires you without an interview. You are sent a check with instructions to deposit it before you’ve done any work. You are instructed to use this money to purchase gift cards, money orders or other supplies you’ll need for the job. You are asked to send part of what you purchase to the new employer. The rest of the money will be your payment. However, the check is fake, which banks will discover shortly after you deposit it. Any money already sent to your “employer” is gone.

How to avoid employment scams

Do your research. Before saying yes to any job, research the company. Does it have a professional website and legitimate contact information? What are others saying about their experience with the company?

Beware of red flags. Scammers often send emails with typos and grammatical errors. They offer to hire you without an interview and even pay you before you’ve done any work. None of these are behaviors of a reputable business.

Never send funds in the form of cash, checks, gift cards or wire transfers to someone you don’t know. Legitimate companies would never request this.

For more information

To learn more about avoiding employment scams, visit the Better Business Bureau.