There is a growing trend in job (and internship) scams targeting college students. Fake job postings abound in unsolicited emails and in online job listing sites especially on social media. These unsolicited emails typically come in the form of phishing attacks or SPAM. Fake jobs can be attempts to steal your personal information or steal money. Job scams can also get you entangled in criminal activity, so be very cautious. Jobs that sound too good to be true should raise a red flag for anyone. Some job scams are easy to spot while others appear to be legitimate especially if they seem to be coming from a email address. Unfortunately, scammers are able to “spoof” email addresses so that their emails “appear” to be coming from a legitimate University email ( account when they are actually coming from the scammer’s email account.

So how do you know whom to trust and what to do should you fall for one of these scams? You can start with these basic guidelines to avoid a potential scam.

Guidelines to recognize and avoid job scams

Common job scams targeting college students

Example of a job scam scenario

A student applies for an online job posted by a scammer from out-of-state or out-of-country. When payday comes around, the scammer tells the student they will receive a cashier’s check, however, the value of the check will be more than what the student has earned. The scammer offers to “trust” the student and asks that they repay the difference with a wire transfer. The student cashes the cashier’s check and then wires the scammer the balance. Even though the bank cashes the check, it is later discovered to be a fake and does not clear. The student now owes the bank the full value of the check.

Report suspicious employment opportunities

If you have concerns about the legitimacy of a job or internship posting, please contact the Fredonia Career Development Office at (716) 673-3327 or You can also utilize the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission to see if any complaints have been lodged against the company.

What to do if you are a victim of one of these scams

  1. Contact your local police department, and file a report.

  2. Contact the Career Development Office so they can potentially notify the campus community as needed.

  3. File a complaint online with the Federal Trade Commission. Also, check out their video on how to report scam and more ways to avoid fraud and avoiding job scams.

  4. File a complaint online with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

  5. Depending on the nature of the scam, check your personal accounts for any suspicious activity (e.g., identity theft).


Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

Internet Crime Complaint Center:

Better Business Bureaus (BBB):

University of Colorado Boulder (Office of Student Financial Aid):

Case Western Reserve University:

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