“Setting Up” Students To Assist Cyber Crimes

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.” Well, that is the case with a new scam targeting students in Texas and across the nation. The Better Business Bureau is warning college students not to get involved in a scam, disguising itself as a work at home opportunity.

The Scam

The scam starts with an email to the student’s email account that seems to be a job offer from a legitimate company’s human resources department. The opportunity promises to pay students for receiving direct deposits from the company to the student’s personal bank account. After the deposit, the company then makes a withdrawal and places the money into other bank accounts.

In reality, this is not an actual job offer; this is an invitation to join/assist a criminal enterprise. The student who accepts this job offer has unknowingly assisted cyber criminals in hiding stolen money, and can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Tips To Spot The Scam

It is important to stay alert and ensure you are not victimized by this scam. The following tips can help you avoid any criminal liability:

  • Often times, the job offer will be unsolicited, will require no experience, and will offer an immediate start;
  • Be on the alert if the job requires you to give them your personal banking information under the guise of a credit check or payroll purposes, especially when you’ve never met an actual person;
  • Certain position titles to wary of include work from home, secret shopper, or customer service;
  • Do your research on the company. Is the position listed on its website? Does the company have a website? Search the company name for reviews; and
  • No matter how great of a candidate you may believe you are, be concerned with any job offers made to you without an interview. A legitimate business would never hire an individual without conducting an interview.

The above scam may be prosecuted under Federal and/or State wire fraud statutes. The wire fraud statutes are broad, requiring only that a scheme to take money or property be assisted by the use of the interstate wire system (in this case, the internet/cable system). Those elements must be met beyond a reasonable doubt before a prosecutor may secure a conviction.

The Penalty

If found guilty of wire fraud, know that the penalties are severe. A conviction for wire fraud carries a penalty of up to twenty years in prison and is accompanied by stiff monetary fines in the Federal system and not much less in the State system. If the prosecution proves that the fraud was against a financial institution, the United States Postal Service, or other federal institution, then a conviction will carry a penalty of up to thirty years and up to $1,000,000 in fines.

Our firm has experience with wire fraud defense. If you are under investigation or arrested for wire fraud, we advise that you contact one of our highly skilled attorneys immediately. We will assist you during the investigation and if necessary through your trial and appeal. The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates is prepared to help you if you find yourself tangled in the middle of one of these schemes.