Throughout the last month, several students have received fake emailed job offers from someone claiming to work for the University.
Since University Career Services notified the UT Police Department about the email scam last week, 13 students have reported receiving emails, said Norma Guerra Gaier, University Career Services executive director. This type of email scam has been around for a few years and occurs across the country, Gaier said.
“We found out about its resurgence through student reports that they had been offered this ‘too good to be true’ opportunity, and they wanted to check with our office to see if it was a real opportunity,” Gaier said. “Our office had created a ‘how to identify and avoid a job scam’ posting here that went on our website to address the scam from years ago.”
According to the University Career Services website, the scam emails come from a utexas.edu email account from someone claiming to be with Handshake, an online career network for college students. The scammer offers a position to work with a clinical counselor in the office of “Students with Disabilities,” and in most cases, students are asked to purchase gift cards and later, to print checks.
“Some students have lost hundreds of dollars,” UTPD spokesperson Noelle Newton said in an email. “However, scams like these can total into the thousands. We are unaware of how the scammers got access to a utexas.edu email address.”
To avoid being scammed, Newton said students should ask for the name of the agency and a phone number of the business providing a job offer.
“You can then research the number to see if it matches with the agency,” Newton said. “Contact the agency using the phone number you identified through an independent source to verify the information. A legitimate agency will never deal in gift cards or overpay you with a check.”
There are more red flags students can look for, Gaier said.
“Typically the communication has typos and grammatical errors,” Gaier said. “The message might come from a UTexas email address, but in some cases, they will later use a general email account.”
Calleigh Stewart, a rhetoric and writing junior, said she learned about her current job with Texas Parents Association after receiving an email last year.
“When I got the job last year, there wasn’t this scam going on, and when I reapplied this year I was confident it was legitimate,” Stewart said. “It is scary knowing there is a scam is going on because I’ll have to look for a job next semester.”
Gaier said she encourages students to look for job opportunities through HireUTexas, HireALonghorn and other UT-approved job banks.
“If you go through that system, more than likely you’re going to be safer than when you get a random email of somebody saying, ‘Oh I’ve got this job for you,’” Gaier said. “If a student finds themselves in a position where they are not sure if it’s a legitimate opportunity, they can contact University Career Services, and we are happy to work with them to verify the legitimacy of it.”