Some postings on the UO Career Center website appear to be defrauding students in a scam that could cause them to owe their banks money after cashing checks from various employers.
The scam causes students to deposit checks given to them by people claiming to be their employers. The employer makes up a reason for students to have to give some of the money back, but after they return some of the money, the original check they received bounces and they have to pay their bank.
Cheyenne Thorpe was looking through the Career Center website last year for potential jobs when she saw an advertisement for a babysitter position through care.com. After creating a profile on the website, she was contacted by someone who said their friend was moving to Eugene and needed a babysitter. After getting in contact with the woman, Thorpe thought she had a great $20/hour job ahead of her, but was shocked when she was sent a $3,000 check.
Thorpe never met the woman who was emailing her, but the woman requested that Thorpe take the check and deposit it into her bank account, keep some of the money, and give $2,000 to their “landlord.”
The woman from the ad went as far as sending Thorpe a location of the home they were moving to in Eugene, and a photo of her, her husband and her daughter. When Thorpe got the check she was overwhelmed by the amount and recognized it as a scam after talking to her parents.
“That was just like too much money for a college student,” she said. “I have never been around $3,000 before.”
Samantha Matta at the UO Career Center said this is a common trend. The career center encourages students to take ownership of this issue and to make sure they are checking every job posting carefully. Matta said showing someone you trust, such as a professor or parent, is a good idea for figuring out if a posting is a scam.
Josh Mabry, a junior psychology major, was also almost scammed by a post on the Career Center website. Patrick Cooper, claiming to be with a company called Cooper Engineering, advertised a need for a personal assistant and offered Mabry the job. Mabry said that from the beginning the language and speediness of the application process seemed odd, but he went with it anyway. It was when Cooper told Mabry he was going to send him a check in the mail for $600 and that he could deposit it and keep $400 of it, that Mabry realized it was a scam and stopped replying.
Cooper Engineering is the name of a real company, but David Cooper of Cooper Engineering said that the scam posts are not connected to their business. He advised anyone who has received a scam email to contact the authorities in their area.
The emails sent from Patrick Cooper were from a slightly different domain name than the website of Cooper Engineering and the emails sent from David Cooper.
Mabry said that what bothered him the most about the entire scam was that he saw the posting on the Career Center website.
“You kind of expect that [issue] more when you search for jobs on Craigslist,” he said, “but the fact that I was on the UO Career Center website and this scam stuff is there is kind of what bothers me the most about it.”
The Career Center reads through and checks several hundred postings a day. Often, students at the Career Center will contact the employer of an advertisement that seems like it might be a scam to check, Matta said.
“This is human-run so of course there is always going to be error,” she said.
Matta suggests that students who have been scammed let the Career Center know so they can remove the post and contact UOPD.
Follow Emma Henderson on Twitter @henderemma .