The Internet Crime Complaint Center, known as IC3, says there are multiple scams targeting universities, university employees and students across the nation.
IC3 says the scams range from Internet fraud to intrusions.
The following are common scenarios:
- Spear phishing e-mails are being sent to university employees that appear to be from their employer. The e-mail contains a link and claims some type of issue has risen requiring them to enter their log-in credentials. Once employees provide their user name and password, the perpetrator accesses the university’s computer system to redirect the employees’ payroll allocation to another bank account. The university employees’ payroll allocations are being deposited into students’ accounts. These students were hired through online advertisements for work-at-home jobs, and provided their bank account information to the perpetrators to receive payment for the work they performed.
- Scammers are posting online advertisements soliciting college students for administrative positions in which they would receive checks via the mail or e-mail. Students are directed to deposit the checks into their accounts, and then print checks and/or wire money to an individual. Students are never asked to provide their bank account information to the perpetrators.
- Perpetrators are compromising students’ credential resulting in the rerouting of their reimbursement money to other bank accounts. The reimbursement money is from student loans and used to pay tuition, books, and living expenses.
- Perpetrators are obtaining professors’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and using it to file fraudulent income tax returns.
- Some universities have been victims of intrusions, resulting in the perpetrators being able to access university databases containing information on their employees and students.
"If they receive an email from their institution, it's going to be natural for them to open it. Just as if a university employee receives an email that seems to originate from their institution,” Robert Guess, IT specialist at Tidewater Community College said.
In many cases, it can be very difficult to distinguish real from fake e-mails.
"They take legitimate communications and they copy them so that they look to be legitimate and send them off with some code attached or embedded in the HTML enabled email,” Guess said.
If you receive an e-mail requesting any personal identifiable information, Guess says to be skeptical.
"That is usernames, passwords, clicking on links. Unless they've initiated the request, they should not be receiving an inquiry. No college help desk is going to proactively contact all their users and ask them to change their passwords,” Guess said.
If you have been a victim of one of these scams or any other Internet related scam, you are encouraged to file a complaint with the IC3 or notify your university police.
Click here for more information/file complaint
The IC3 was established as a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center to receive Internet related criminal complaints.