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How to Avoid Scams and/or Fraudulent Postings

In addition to the hundreds of great opportunities from legitimate employers listed on the Career Center website and Handshake, we unfortunately see occasional fraudulent postings as well.  

Despite our monitoring of incoming postings, it is important that students carefully review job postings for signs of fraud.

Warning signs 

Here are some warning signs to look out for when evaluating a potential opportunity:

  • You are asked to give your credit card or bank account numbers, or copies of personal documents — but you get nothing in writing.
  • You must send payment by wire service or courier.
  • You are offered a large payment or reward in exchange for allowing the use of your bank account — often for depositing checks or transferring money.  Note: This sample is for illustration purposes only:
  • You receive an unexpectedly large check.  Note: these samples are for illustration purposes only (PDF): 
  • There have been reports of  unsolicited "job offers" going directly to a student's @cougars email address.  In some cases, the offer states that the sender is somehow associated with CSUSM. These are generally “work part-time from home” offers. If you agree to the unsolicited offer, it will go something like this:
    1. After responding to the initial email, the student agrees to take on a job as an “administrative assistant” or “envelope stuffer” or “shipping clerk,” etc.
    2. The student receives a check from the company to redistribute or make purchases (often gift cards).
    3. The student deposits the check and makes the purchases.
    4. The student sends off the purchased goods (gift cards, etc.) as requested by the person who sent the check.
    5. After that, the check bounces or is canceled and now the student’s bank account is negative (overdrawn) and the student is left owing the bank for the purchases made on behalf of their “employer.”
    6. The “employer” will have used a fake identity and will have disappeared.
  • This is not an exhaustive list. There may be other clues, or a fraudulent posting may not conform to any of these conditions — but these are common tactics.
  • Visit CSUSM Information Security - Scams page to see example messages and get information on how to spot these scam emails.

Scam and fraudulent postings are not limited to online job boards. Some scams are posted on physical bulletin boards around campus and may seem like they're affiliated with or promoting advocacy groups or causes that students care about.

What to do 

Please don’t respond to these offers. When you receive one, forward it to and/or call the University Police Department (760)750-4567 immediately.