Valley college and district students are being email spammed with financial hustles.
By Isaac Dektor, News Editor
Scammers recently targeted students around the district with a years-old con, the current rendition of which offered a “UNICEF Part-Time Position”.
Con artists would offer fake checks to students who followed the instructions in the email, further directing them to keep some of the money and wire the funds back to them. When the check is rejected by the bank, students are responsible for the total sum.
President Barry Gribbons advises students to verify any emails they receive before clicking a link or engaging with the sender.
“Really look carefully at the sender and make sure it has a domain name that they recognize like lavc.edu or laccd.edu,” said Gribbons. “I know it can be confusing because they look very real, but it is really important to scrutinize who’s sending it.”
The internet has been a usual haunt for con artists over the years, with the Federal Trade Commission writing a post nearly seven years ago on their website titled “Fake Checks: The nanny or caregiver scam”, which outlines a similar scam to the one sporadically hitting the district.
“Don’t send money to someone you don’t know, either in cash or through a money transfer service,” wrote FTC Councilmember Kando Pineda. “Likewise, don’t deposit a check from someone you don’t know and then transfer the money. No matter how convincing the story, it’s a lie.”
Pineda claims that scammers went so far as to tell persuasive stories designed to win over the victims with compassion, asking them to receive medical equipment needed by the made-up person they were supposed to babysit.
While financial hustling on the internet is an age-old problem, the recurrence of fraudulent spam on “large numbers of LACCD student email addresses,” according to an email sent by the district to all students, raises the broader issue of data security.
LACCD students were targeted directly last September with a similar email offering a “Part-Time Job Opportunity.''
The district responds to potential data breaches through its office of information technology, which investigates reported incidents and crafts an appropriate response based on the severity of the breach.
The office recognizes four levels of information breach severity ranging from critical to low. A critical breach involves the successful hacking of a district system while a low designation is used for the successful or attempted hacking of a single individual.
Upon a critical breach, also designated P1, the office activates its information security incident response team to investigate and design a response. The team is constructed based on the scope and nature of the information security incident according to the office’s public documents.
Students who receive emails from unknown domains should contact Valley’s public information office, check for information about the sender on the student portal or call the appropriate department in order to verify the emails legitimacy before engaging with it.