by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:
CHARLOTTE - Watch out for a new scam targeting college students, offering them part-time jobs they can do online.
University of North Carolina Charlotte freshman Aliyah Johnson said the email came through her campus account, making it look more legitimate.
"Yeah, definitely," she said.
It offered her part-time work, earning more than $200 per week from home.
"It's very tempting," she said.
She emailed back, got more information, and, then, got a $1,900 check in the mail with instructions: cash the check using her personal bank account, keep $310 for herself, and wire the remaining $1,600 using Western Union. That's when Johnson said no.
"I would never wire money to somebody I don't know," she said.
Action 9 searched the address online and it's the Gainesville, Ga., newspaper, The Times. So Action 9's Jason Stoogenke called and an executive there told him this is the first he'd heard of it, and that he assumes the scammers picked the paper's address randomly.
Stoogenke also warned many local colleges. Most hadn't heard about it either. One exception was Central Piedmont Community College, which said the FBI sent it an alert. Wingate University was another.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has heard of scams targeting college students, but not necessarily this one.
"Any time you get these checks you're supposed to deposit, wire money out, that should be a signal to you that you are about to get ripped off," he said.
Johnson isn't sure how con artists got her email. She went to a job fair recently, submitted her email and thinks maybe that's how it fell into the wrong hands.
"It really scared me because how can I tell real from fake now?" she said.
Action 9 also found there's another version of the scam, targeting professors who use direct deposit. Their pay is redirected to actual students, but it's not clear how the scammers benefit.