NEWS

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February 17, 2012

E-mail scammers target students seeking internships

A phishing scam has targeted at least ten U of C students and gotten personal information from one, masquerading as an employer asking for personal information through Career Advising and Planning Services (CAPS).

The suspect e-mails, purportedly from a representative of a large company like JP Morgan, try to gain confidential banking information by saying they received students’ contact information from the “school career center.”

The generic emails, which have been reported by college students across the country, first ask for basic personal information for a job involving acting as middleman for financial transactions. The scammer then offers students a chance to prove their qualifications through a “test,” which involves receiving a check, depositing it, and then wire transferring that money to another account.

First-year Jon Lancaster was one of several people who received the suspicious emails, and said that he responded with personal information at first. “I gave him my name, email, address, that basic information,” Lancaster said.

When he realized it was a scam, Lancaster called the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD), which informed him he was not alone. “When I called the UCPD, they said there was already one girl who gave the [scammer] her banking information,” he said. The Maroon was unable to verify this account with UCPD at press time.

Despite the scam’s geographical range, CAPS Associate Director Shannon Delaney said her office has only heard reports from about ten students. “How many people are actually getting [the phishing emails], we don’t really know.”

It is unclear how the scammer has been obtaining students’ email addresses, but Lancaster believes that it is through CAPS’s website. “I think that this person set up fake profiles on CAPS, and then set up similarly fake job descriptions, to which people would send their resumes,” Lancaster said.

CAPS Senior Associate Director Marthe Druska said that the e-mail addresses are not coming from her office. “Student information is public in the online directory. It’s possible, although I don’t know, that it’s coming from that source,” she said.

Delaney said that she forwards all scam emails she receives to the IT Services department and lets them handle the issue from there. “Their response is usually, ‘Don’t fall for a phishing scam. Here’s more information about what phishing scams are,’” she said.

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