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Job Scams

Unfortunately fake job postings are on the rise via unsolicited emails sent to your student account and on online job-listing sites. To avoid being caught up in a scam, heed this advice:

Watch out for over payment scams

Often posted as a book-keeper, personal assistant, administrative assistant, etc, to assist in processing checks or mystery/secret shoppers, the “company” sends a check to the “assistant” (student), who is then responsible for taking their salary out of the check and wiring the remainder of the money back to the “company. These checks are fraudulent and can leave you out thousands of dollars and facing criminal charges.  A popular variation on the check cashing scam is the Car Wrap Advertising scam.

Watch out for Email Phishing scams

Online scammers are becoming much more sophisticated in their attempts to lure victims, especially using email links to false websites. It is increasingly difficult to tell the difference between legitimate and counterfeit online sites. There has been a recent uptick in phishing attacks at institutions across the country. MSU Police offer phishing scam tips.

Car Wrap email phishing scam

Beware if the email or job posting…

• Does not indicate the company name
• Comes from an email address that doesn’t match the company name
• Offers to pay a large amount for almost no work
• Offers you a job without ever interacting with you
• Asks you to pay an application fee
• Wants you to transfer money from one account to another
• Offers to send you a check before you do any work
• Asks you to give your credit card or bank account numbers
• Asks for copies of personal documents
• Says you must send payment by wire service or courier
• Offers you a large payment for allowing the use of your bank account – often for depositing checks or transferring money
• Sends you an unexpectedly large check

No legitimate employer will send payment in advance and ask the employee to send a portion of it back. DO NOT provide any personal information especially social security numbers or financial information! 

MSU SecureIT encourages the MSU community to:

  1. Never respond to an email requesting personal information.
  2. Use a different strong password for each online account.
  3. Change passwords more frequently for accounts with access to confidential data.
  4. Never share passwords with others.

More MSU SecureIT information:

If you have concerns about the legitimacy of a job or internship posting, please contact MSU Career Services immediately at (517) 355-9510 or .

Individuals who believe they have information pertaining to false internet/email employment schemes are encouraged to file a complaint at

Adapted from information from the Internet Crime Complaint Center and Johns Hopkins University


1. Fake MSU Email Scam – “Lee Zheng Personal Assistant”
—– Forwarded SCAM Message —–
From: Michigan State University <noreply@MichiganStateUniversity>
Sent: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 1:24 PM
Hello, I’m bringing to your knowledge that one Mr Lee Zhang needs a Personal Assistant who would be responsible for receiving his mails,forwarding them and also running few minor errands.Hence,if you are interested to fill this position reply to this email as we have verified and linked his information to this email herein. Sincerely, Human Resources Affairs © 2012 Michigan State University,all rights reserved.
—— Forwarded SCAM Message —–

2. Scam job posting – “Accounting Assistant”

Employer: Abco Roofing Inc.
Job Title: Accounting Assistant
Job Function: Management/Administration, Marketing/Sales
Position Type: Full Time, Part Time, Internship-Paid, Graduate Assistantship
Job Description:
Processing cash receipts. Ensures cash accuracy by reconciling daily cash receipts and researching and resolving processing errors. Contact customers with questions on payments received. Assist in special projects and other various accounting operations duties on an as-needed basis.
Job Qualifications:
Proficient in Excel and Word
Effective communication and interpersonal skills
Possess strong attention to detail and organizational abilities.

3. Job Posting Scam Follow-Up Email

Fake Company: Roster Coffee
Contact Name: Peter Anderson
Dear Applicant,
Thank you so much for your interest in our advert. I am glad to inform you that the position is still open to you. This is a part time job and also a work-at-home job. It will in no way affect your present work status. Your role is to make payrolls checks,print them from your computer and then mail them out to our payees on instruction. All this will be done from your home at your convenient time. You do not need any special skills to apply for this position. Basic computer skills are needed. It takes not more than 2-3 hours daily depending on how steadfast you are. At the end of each official week, you will receive the sum of $250. You do not need to have any special knowledge to have this job. You will be taught everything you need to know and how to carry out this work effectively online via a chat. However, before you can have this position, you must have a Color Printer and a Scanner. Let me know if you have them so that i can send you more details about the job.
Regards, Peter

4. Job Posting Scam Follow-Up Email

To: “college student”
Subject: 1st Assignment & Instructions
Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2012
Dear Applicant,
This is to inform you that a transaction has been completed and you will be receiving your 1st payment for processing this morning. Payment will arrive via FedEx Courier service with the tracking #1234… It is part of your duty to monitor the transit of the payment parcel. On delivery of payment, you are to send a notification that payment has been received and then proceed with the processing. You are to have the check deposited in your bank account for 24hrs. Then you can withdraw the funds from your bank account first thing tomorrow morning to Complete your first Assignment. As soon as you have the funds in your possession tomorrow you will be deducting your 10% salary and then, have the rest of the funds sent in cash via MoneyGram to the vendor’s information which will be provided to you later today or first thing tomorrow morning . It will be advised that all transaction be done efficiently with no error. It is very important to send us an email as an update once the check have being received and also once the check have being deposited to confirm you will be completing your assignment tomorrow morning .
Craig David
Recruitment Director
Zehm Home Concepts Inc.
Tel: (562) 661 8624

5. Job Candidate going through online interview

a) A company will reach out to a candidate (whose resume or LinkedIn profile they have identified) posing as a consulting company and ask them to complete a questionnaire on their background, skills, experiences, etc.
b) Then, they ask for responses to another, follow up questionnaire based on their previous answers and many of them are legitimate supply chain questions (in this candidate’s case). So, the ‘company’ is giving off the impression that they are moving along in a selection process….
c) Then, the candidate “passes” on to the next step and the company asks them to invest in some equipment (technical) to get them started, so they can work out of their home presumably. And, in order for the company to give them a ‘cash advance’ for this equipment they ask for banking and credit card information.


Personal assistants
Issuing checks/Check processing from home
Pyramid sales schemes
A variety of scams where a student is asked to pay for certification, training materials or equipment with promise of reimbursement
A variety of scams where a student is asked to pay a fee


Mystery shoppers
Envelop stuffing from home
Repackaging or shipping from home
Pet sitting
Model/talent agencies

U.S. Gov. Federal Trade Commission
Better Business Bureau
MSU State News – Email Scams