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TAMU professor, CSPD warn of new fake check scam targeting college students

The FTC said scammers are using university email domains to target young people. A local professor and police officer give their perspective and warnings.

Those who spend time online have probably bumped into some sort of scam. 

The latest one the Federal Trade Commission is warning about hits pretty close to home in the Brazos Valley, and those involved are targeting college students. 

Scrolling through your email it’s easy to find junk and delete it right away, but what if you saw a familiar email address?

“The scam appears to come from a college professor from a university domain. So somebody@tamu.edu, for instance,” TAMU Mays professor Dwayne Whitten said.

The FTC has warned these scammers send an email, offering a part-time job like being a personal assistant or dog walker. 

Then they ask their victims to deposit a check for them. 

Soon after, they claim they sent too much money and ask their victims for the difference. 

“The check that comes in is going to take several days or more to clear your bank," Professor Whitten said.

"But then they’re asking you to hurry up and send the excess money back to them. So by the time that your bank figures out that the check was bad, you’ve already wired real money back to the scammer.”

Professor Whitten said the bank delay is what has made scams like this persist for the last 20 years. 

Authorities in College Station are seeing similar tricks.

CSPD said scammers will send fraudulent checks, ask their victim to deposit that money and send money through gift cards back to someone. 

“There’s kind of different tactics that they use to convince you why that’s a good idea and how that logic makes sense,” said Officer Tristen Lopez of the College Station Police Department.

He gave examples of scammers who will claim they want to hire their victims to advertise their business on their car. Some, are even trying to entice people to send gift cards to a supposed “sugar daddy.” 

Whatever method they try, the advice from experts will be the same. 

“When somebody gives you a check, there’s no reason you should be sending them money, they’re the ones who should be sending you money, that doesn’t make any sense,” said Officer Lopez

Professor Whitten added that scammers will keep pulling these kinds of tricks because they work. “

"We all want an easy paycheck," he said.

"We got to be careful with our emotions with these kind of things.”

Authorities advise anyone who sees a potential scam to notify the FTC, BBB or their local police department.