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As the annual search for summer jobs and internships reaches full swing, Harvard students last week received an email from the Office of Career Services warning against fraudulent job postings on job and internship database Crimson Careers.
The email came after a number Harvard students reported strange requests from companies to which they had applied through Crimson Careers. In this instance, OCS discovered that two “fraudulent companies”—posing as Account Tech and Plein Realtor—attempted to scam money and information from students.
The first incident occurred after Columbus Day weekend, when the fraudulent job posting originally appeared on Crimson Careers. According to Director of OCS Robin Mount, 42 Harvard students viewed the posting, and at least one College student applied.
“They sent her back a check, a bank check, and asked her to deposit it in her own account, and then send the cash to Manila in Philippines,” Mount said.
The student contacted her freshman dean, Michael C. Ranen, who reported the incident to OCS. Another student affected by the second fraudulent posting contacted the Harvard University Police Department.
Deborah Carroll, associate director of employer relations and operations at OCS, said these companies presented their requests for money as a “test” for the job.
“They say something like, to do this job, you need to be able to follow directions and to do multi-step processes,” Carroll said. “For us to see whether or not you’re able to do it, we’re going to Fedex you this check, you’re going to deposit it into your account, and then you send the money to the other person, and then we’ll see if you are able to handle these kinds of transactions.”
Although OCS staff members review Crimson Careers for suspicious activity, fraudulent job postings can be difficult to spot, according to Carroll.
“There’s nothing overtly wrong with the posting until later communications when they tell you they’re going to send you a check, and that’s when it starts,” Carroll said.
Harvard was not the only university targeted by these fraudulent companies.
“One hundred universities were impacted by the same scheme,” Carroll said. Some of the job postings that appear on Crimson Careers come from a platform called Simplicity, which many colleges and employers subscribe to for recruiting.
Although OCS listed in the recent email a number of “red flags” to look for when using the Crimson Careers database—most of which involve providing money or credit card and other personal information to companies—both Mount and Carroll agree precaution and common sense are the best way students can avoid fraudulent job postings.
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