Attackers send an email message claiming to be a job offer for a work from home position. Often the "positions" the attackers are offering are something like an administrative assistant, shipping clear, envelope stuffer, etc.
Once the recipient has agreed to take the position, the attackers send a check to the recipient and ask that they desposit it and use the funds to purchase goods. Usually, the goods the recipient is asked to purchase includes things like gift cards, money orders or other forms of untraceable money.
Once the goods have been sent or transferred to the attacker, the attacker will cancel the original check they sent, leaving the recipient financially responsible for the money spent on the goods requested by the attacker.
Attackers use this scam as a way to obtain "free" money by tricking their victims in to using their own money to purchase goods for the attacker. On our campus, students have lost up to several thousand dollars to these types of scams.
This type of attack is seen quite often on University campuses because college students are often portayed as needing financial help, and work from home opportunities are attractive to busy college students.