Today We Focus On Scams Targeting Students

Scams Targeting Students
Merchandise Scams – Buying Online & Counterfeit Goods

Students need to be cautious when buying merchandise online and are encouraged to fully
review feedback and to deal with companies or individuals that they know by reputation or
from past experience. If the buyer is not familiar with a particular seller, they should
independently verify who they are. A good rule of thumb – if the asking price of a product is
too good to be true, it is.
Counterfeiters have also become proficient in producing websites that have the same look and
feel as the legitimate manufacturer. Counterfeit products are far inferior and in many cases
could pose a significant health risk to consumers. For example counterfeit jackets have been
found to contain bacteria, fungus and mildew.
Students should do their due diligence and thoroughly research an online store or website
prior to making a purchase. Confirm that you are dealing with the actual manufacturer and
look for any warnings posted on their website.

Warning Signs – How to Protect Yourself
• Never make a deal outside the auction site, and be cautious of items offered through
online classified ads for extremely low prices;
• Beware if there is limited or no feedback rating on sellers;
• Beware of sellers and renters from overseas;
• Use a credit card when shopping online, customers are offered protection and may
receive a refund. Although email money transfers or debit cards are legitimate, an offer
of protection for counterfeit products purchased online is currently not available.
• Inspect the website thoroughly. Often counterfeit web sites will contain spelling
mistakes and grammatical errors.

Job Scam – Mystery Shopper

Scammer’s use free online classified websites like Kijiji, Craig’s List, Monster and Workopolis to
recruit potential victims. Students answer an enticing ad to become a mystery shopper that is
received either posted online or they receive a message by email or text. The “employer”
sends a letter with shopping tasks to be completed by the “employee” at a particular
company. A cheque is enclosed with the letter to assist the “employee” with purchasing
goods to fulfill the shopping tasks. The “employee” is instructed to deposit the cheque and
keep a portion of the funds as payment for the job. The remaining funds are to be used to
send a wire at a money service business like Western Union or MoneyGram to test the
company’s procedure and customer service skills. Eventually the cheque is returned
counterfeit and the “employee” is accountable to pay for the funds that were wired.

Warning Signs – How to Protect Yourself
• Be mindful where you post your resume, scammers use legitimate websites to seek out
• A legitimate employer will never send funds and request a portion of it back.
• Do your research; a simple search on the internet can save you thousands of dollars.
• If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Extortion Scams

The CAFC has received many variations of the extortion scam. Internet use by students is
increasing which can make them particularly vulnerable to this scam.
1. Ransomware – a pop up message shows up on the computer stating “This IP address
was used to visit websites containing pornography, child pornography, zoophile and
child abuse. Your computer also contains video files with Pornographic content,
elements of violence and child pornography! Spam-messages with terrorist motives
were also sent from your computer.” The messages are socially engineered to appear as
if coming from either the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) or the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police and tell the consumer they need to pay $100-$250 via Bitcoin,
Ukash or PaySafe Card to unlock their computer.
2. “Sextortion” – victims are lured into an online relationship through social media or
pornographic websites. As the relationship builds, victims are encouraged to use the
computer’s camera and the “scammer” will coerce the victim to perform a sexual act in
front of the camera. The victim is later advised that the event was recorded and unless a
sum of money is paid the video will be released through various online websites such as
YouTube. The transfer of money is requested through money services businesses such
as Western Union, MoneyGram and Ukash. Some consumers have endured many
emotional stresses in their lives and being caught in this scenario can be too much to
handle. In the last year the CAFC is aware of two suicides in Ontario that are directly
related to the Extortion scam.

Warning Signs – How to Protect Yourself
• Beware of pop-up messages or a banner with a ransom request;
• Never click on a pop up that claims your computer has a virus, if you cannot access
anything on the computer beyond the pop-up screen your computer is infected.
• Never send money to “unlock” a computer;
• Deny any request to perform an illicit act over the internet.
If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, please contact the Canadian
Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or report online at