Many students have reported emails offering fake off-campus jobs such as pet-sitting and virtual assistance for a man known only as “Uncle Steve.” The emails can be found in the junk folder of some students’ Southern email accounts.
The sender introduces herself as Mallory Josh, a student at Southern. She is seeking people interested in making $300 working for her “Uncle Steve” who has “recently moved to the area.” However, Josh is not listed as a Southern student, and does not have a student email.
Lexie Dornburg, sophomore nursing major, received the email on March 1, 2021. Dornburg was immediately suspicious.
“I looked at it and knew it had to be fake,” Dornburg said. “It was too good to be true. I immediately noticed that the email wasn’t a southern.edu email, but they claimed to be a student, and that was fishy.”
Campus Safety warns students to be careful with such emails.
“The majority of these emails are sent to multiple random contacts in the attempt to deceive the recipient into giving out sensitive information and/or some type of monetary funds,” said Corbett Cole, dispatch supervisor for Campus Safety.
According to Cole, in the case of a personal assistant, the scammer will send a check to the victim and have them deposit it into their personal bank account. The victim will be asked to buy gift cards or wire money using a service such as Walmart’s MoneyGram. According to Cole, normally the victim is informed that they can keep a portion of the check as payment.
“In the end, the check does not clear, and often the victim has overdrawn their bank account,” Cole said.
According to Penrod and Haas, only one scam email has been reported this year. While this does not mean other Southern students have not received them, many scam emails are caught by scam filters put in place by Information and Technology.
Luke Dunzweiler, a security analyst for Southern, has listed some tips for avoiding scams, such as: Checking if the email is from a legitimate web address, noting if the email has spelling or grammar errors and logging into your email account directly rather than clicking on a link.
Cole advises students to be cautious of emails that offer money, and suggests that students contact Campus Safety with additional questions.