Iowa Western student loses $3,000 from fake job scam

It’s all a scam and his bank demands $3000 back.
An Iowa Western student learned an expensive lesson about job scams.
Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 10:36 PM CDT
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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) - An Iowa Western student learned an expensive lesson about job scams.

While it may have sounded too good to be true, the phony pitch used a very real way to fool the victim.

Students at Iowa Western are being warned to study emails because scammers will try to outsmart them.

“The email came from an Iowa Western email address so that’s why I thought it came from Iowa Western,” student Michael Hansen said.

An email Michael received offered a campus employment job opportunity to work part-time from home or school for $450 a week doing errands for someone off campus. He thought they were affiliated with Iowa Western.

“No I didn’t think it was too good to be true, I know some people that are blessed with positions like that where they make good money.”

Pay would be deducted from a Michigan clinic check Michael deposited in his account with the rest of the money sent to charities as instructed.

“Roughly two days after I deposited it, it came back a bounced check.”

It’s all a scam and his bank demands $3000 back.

“I thought I had a great job, and then come to find out that I was taken advantage of.”

The Nebraska Bankers Association says cashing a check doesn’t mean it’s cleared.

“We are required under federal law to expeditiously provide the money for checks deposited,” Richard Baier, the President of the Nebraska Bankers Association said. “Subsequently, the bank has to go to the other bank where the check came from and verify there are funds to draw it out of, so that’s where the tension comes in this process.”

Back on the Iowa Western campus, the IT department investigated the phony job opportunity sent through a school email.

“A student email was compromised and then used to feed emails to other students involving this scam,” Vice President Don Kohler said. “All student emails have a number in it as well, so this person had the name and the number so it wouldn’t look suspicious.”

Kohler says besides a 15-character password requirement, Iowa Western recently ramped up security with a multi-factor email authentification process.

But if a scam email slips through, students and staff should see red flags.

”If there’s a link included or an email address from outside Iowa Western that they are asking you to contact, then that’s an idea it’s a scam,” advisor Kinsey Rodenburg said.

Michael says he’s paid $600 back to the bank, but with $2,700 still owed he’s taking time off from college.

“The best I can do right now is just go to work daily, pick up maybe another job to pay it back and move forward.”

Michael says any further job offers through a college email address will be put to the test.

Council Bluffs Police are actively investigating Michael’s case. The Michigan clinic reports the bogus checks using its name started appearing two months ago and staff has received calls from potential victims in several states.