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NIU Police warn of employment/business opportunity scam

September 2, 2019

NIU Police are advising students to be on the lookout for an employment scam with criminals posing as foreign-based companies recruiting U.S. citizens for work-at-home employment opportunities. These positions often involve reselling or reshipping merchandise to destinations outside the state. The scam is typically done through the student’s email account, then followed-up with numerous text messages.

The fraudsters tell prospective employees that they are required to provide personal information, as well as copies of their identification, such as a driver’s license, birth certificate, or social security card. The applicants are then informed they are “hired” by these fake companies and that their salary will be paid by check from a separate U.S.-based company that is purported to be the fake companies’ creditor.

As a follow up to the application process, there is often high pressure via email or text messaging to very quickly deposit a fraudulent check sent by the scammer into the job seeker’s personal bank account, and then immediately write and send a check from their personal checking account to a fraudulent third party.

The amount of the fraudulent check is usually significantly more than the so-called new employee is paid in advance for salary and expenses. After depositing the fraudulent check, the victim is instructed to wire or mail the overpayment to a secondary location, typically out of state. The checks are later found by the bank to be fraudulent, often after the transfer has taken place, resulting in the victim being responsible for the personal check they wrote.

The victim not only doesn’t have a job, they are often financially responsible for the personal check they wrote.

“These scams are very popular and seem very lucrative,” said NIU Chief of Police Thomas Phillips. “The simplest advice we can give, if it seems too good to be true, it is. Be very suspicious of, in fact, stay away from, any online ‘deal’ that asks for money or personal information.”

NIU Police urge all individuals contacted about this scam to report those involved immediately and be prepared to provide names and descriptions of the offenders when available. A federal complaint can be filed with the Internet Crime Complaint Center or with the NIU Police Department at 815-753-1212. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call the Tips line at 815-753-TIPS (815-753-8477).