Phishing Alert: Job posting scam targets college students


Mar. 18, 2011

Phishing Alert: Phishing scams attempt to trick you into providing sensitive personal information, including social security numbers and credit card/banking details. The latest generation of scam is targeting college students and is disguising itself as a job posting. To date, no fictitious employers have been found in the ObieOpps system maintained by the Career Center at Oberlin College. However, fraudulent postings were recently discovered in the UCAN and LACN databases that are available to Oberlin College students.

Two recent phishing “employers” that have targeted students are “Centopsheer Arts Company” and “Deer Park Company.” If you see a position in ObieOpps, or the UCAN & LACN databases that you believe may be a scam, please notify the Career Center immediately.

The following characteristics are key red flags:

  • You must provide your credit card, bank account numbers, or other personal financial documentation.
  • The posting appears to be from a reputable, familiar company (often a Fortune 500), but the domain in the contact's email address does not match the domain used by representatives of the company (this is typically easy to determine from the company's website).
  • The contact email address contains the domain
  • The position requires an initial investment, such as a payment by wire service or courier.
  • The posting includes many spelling and grammatical errors.
  • The position initially appears as a traditional job, but upon further research, it sounds more like an independent contractor opportunity. Debbie Kaylor, Career Center Director at Boise State University, discusses this further in her blog posting Beware of Aggressive Recruiters
  • You are offered a large payment or reward in exchange for allowing the use of your bank account (often for depositing checks or transferring money).
  • You receive an unexpectedly large check (checks are typically slightly less than $500, generally sent or deposited on Fridays).
  • You are asked to provide a photo of yourself.
  • The position is for any of the following: Envelope Stuffers, Home-based Assembly Jobs, Online Surveys.
  • The posting neglects to mention what the responsibilities of the job actually are. Instead, the description focuses on the amount of money to be made.
  • The employer responds to you immediately after you submit your resume. Note: this does not include an auto-response.
  • The position indicates a "first year compensation" that is in high excess to the average compensation for that position type.
  • Look at the company's website. Does it have an index that tells you what the site is about; or does it contain information only about the job you are interested in? Scammers often create quick, basic web pages that seem legit at first glance.
  • Watch for anonymity. If it is difficult to find an address, actual contact, company name, etc. - this is cause to proceed with caution. Fraud postings are illegal, so scammers will try to keep themselves well-hidden.
  • The salary range listed is very wide (e.g. "employees can earn from $40K - $80K the first year!")
  • When you Google the company name and the word "scam" (e.g. Company X Scam), the results show several scam reports concerning this company. Another source for scam reports is
  • The employer's phone number, fax number and/or email address does not appear connected to an actual business organization in a Google search.
  • The employer contacts you by phone, however there is no way to call them back. The number is not available.
  • The employer tells you that they do not have an office set-up in your area, and will need you to help them get it up and running.

If you have any concerns about a potential employer, job or internship, please contact the Career Center immediately at (440) 775-8140. We will look into the matter on your behalf and take appropriate action. If you believe you are the victim of fraud resulting from a job listing, please contact the local police as well.

This document was adapted from the Hiatt Career Center at Brandeis University