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Police Department / Crime Prevention / Computer Scams

Computer Scams

The FSU Police Department is receiving many complaints about internet scams, from phishing to the Nigerian scam, online auction fraud and identity theft to the old ‘work from home and make lots of money’ offers. We would like you to be aware of these typical scams, so you can avoid being victimized.

Phishing is a newer scam which appears to come from a bona fide source and asks you to enter your personal information, typically under the guise of “verifying” information the company needs to validate or update your account status. Phishers may send out thousands of pop-up windows or spam emails in an attempt to get one response. The phishing emails may have spelling or other errors in the message, but don’t let that be your only guide to the veracity of the message. Many phishers are quite sophisticated, and their websites or links may appear authentic. A good rule to follow: don’t click on any links in a suspect message, even out of curiosity. Some of the links, which may look valid, actually redirect to another website and may even download a bit of code to retrieve information from your computer. If you receive email you suspect may be a phishing attempt, forward the email with all headers attached to:, and If the email comes through a campus email account, it can be forwarded, with all headers attached, to Do not respond, do not click on any links, and if you suspect something is awry with your account, contact the company via a reputable point of contact, not the information found in the email.
 The Nigerian scam has been around in several forms, and is now making the email rounds. Again, the email is sent to many computer users in the hope of getting just one to comply with the request in the letter. The basis of this scam is a hard-luck letter from someone who claims to have a great deal of money in a foreign country, and they need your help (and bank account number) to access the money. Basically, if you allow them to use your bank account to transfer money, they will cut you in on a share of the money in return. Of course, there is no other money- except yours, which they can now access with your bank account information. This is a scam which has worked well in the past, even in person at parking lots where it’s referred to as “the pigeon drop.”


Internet auction fraud was the one of the leading causes of complaints to the Federal Trade Commission in 2003, and the numbers of victims are rising fast. Typically, the complaints deal with property paid for and not received, or property received that is not equivalent in value to the product purchased. But there is a new scam, and many people are not even aware of it, but it has already occurred in the Tallahassee area. Typically, the victim is actually the person who has posted an item for sale on a website. In this case, the scammers contact the sellers and offer to pay with a cashier’s check. The cashier’s check is made out for an amount over the purchase price, and the seller is encouraged to deposit the check in his or her account, subtract the amount of the purchased item, then send a cashier’s check in return to the buyer. The buyer’s check is fake, so the seller is now defrauded for the entire amount of the check. Check out the Federal Trade Commission’s press release about the check overpayment scam at:


Recently, it came to our attention that the “work at home” scams have gone online. The sites look very professional and promise to pay hundreds of dollars per week or month for very little work. The guideline in these cases: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Check with the Better Business Bureau, which basically tells you if any consumer complaints have been lodged against a business for fraudulent practices. One company, KTY, has been targeting students, offering 10-20 dollars for each online survey completed, and 30-50 dollars for each online “focus group” in which the user participates. The user is encouraged to join “for only 10 dollars,” with the potential to earn up to $900.00 per week. Most people can use that kind of money! The Better Business Bureau has had several complaints about this particular company, and the Federal Trade Commission lists this money-maker in its top list of “Dot-Cons.” Read more about online fraud at: