What are Scams?

Scams are illegal, dishonest schemes that aim to profit by deceiving individuals. Do not let yourself become victim to a scam.

The UC Santa Cruz Police Department wants the community to familiarize themselves with the following scam tactics these individuals employ and understand that legitimate representatives of the U.S. Government or law enforcement agencies will NEVER threaten you or ask you to send them money, gift cards, checks, or personal information such as your Social Security Number.

We recommend the UC Santa Cruz community to review the ITS Beware of Scams page to familiarize themselves with indicators of a scame, phishing emails, and how they can protect themselves from these schemes. Any emails you recieve that may appear to be fradulent or suspicious, ITS recommends to Report Phishing Attempts to help respond quickly and safeguard your colleagues.

For more information on the most recent scams, how to recognize warning signs of a scam, and a list of ongoing scams, please visit the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information on Scams.

Employment Scam (Work From Home Scams) via the Better Business Bureau

How the Scam Works 

You receive an email to your school email address encouraging you to apply for a job. The message appears to come from your school’s job placement office, student services department, or even a specific professor. The position – it may be anything from pet sitting to secret shopping -- sounds perfect for a college student.  The work is easy, has flexible hours, and offers excellent pay.

When you reply to the message, things start to get strange.  The “employer” hires you without an interview. Then, they send you a check with instructions to deposit it before you’ve even done any work. You are instructed to use this money to purchase gift cards, money orders, prepaid debit cards, or other supplies you’ll need for your new job. Part of what you purchase should be sent to your new employer. The rest of the money will be your payment.

However, the check is a fake – a detail your bank will let you know a day or two after you deposit it. Any money you sent to your “employer” is gone for good.

How to Avoid Employment Scams

  • Do your research. Before you say yes to any job, research the company that wants to hire you. Does the company have a professional website and legitimate contact information? Search for what others saying about their experience with this company.
  • Beware of red flags. Scammers often send emails with many typos and grammatical errors. They offer to hire you without an interview and even pay you before you’ve done any work. None of these are behaviors of a reputable business.
  • Never send money to strangers. Never send funds in the form of cash, checks, gift cards or wire transfers to someone you don’t know or haven’t met. No legitimate company will ask you to pay them to get a job.

For More Information

To learn more about how to avoid employment scams, see You can also find valuable information at