Lee University students targeted in email scams
Over the course of the semester, Lee University students have been targeted by scam emails sent to their university email accounts. Often referred to as “phishing,” scammers will utilize fraudulent emails or phone numbers to gain access to personal information.
In the past year, 347,829 reports of impostor scams were reported in the United States alone, according to the Federal Trade Commission 2017 Consumer report.
The main occurrences of phishing scams targeting Lee students have taken the form of opportunities for a "personal assistant" job ideal for students.
There are several variants of the scam that students have been receiving. In some occurrences, the scammer is referring to himself as an "entrepreneur in the plastics molding business" and in other versions of the email he identifies as a "sculpture artist."
Due to the influx of scam emails that are currently unable to be prevented, Director of IT Operations Chris Golden recommends that students never click on links they do not expect.
According to Golden, even if a student gets an email from a friend they did not anticipate receiving, they should remember the friend could have fallen victim to the scam and whoever has access to their account “wants to sift you as wheat.”
"Lee University has never sent [students] an email asking to verify your account, avoid suspension or termination or to click on something to get more space," Golden said. "Please stop falling for these."
According to Golden, any communication coming from a specific office on campus will have a leeuniversity.edu address. Students are warned to notice if an email does not come from an official Lee address.
"The Lee University email servers have not been hacked," Golden said. "These are attacks against email accounts [such as students], and there is not much we can do to prevent these attacks from coming in. The more people fall for them, the more frequently they will hit your inbox."
According to IT Department student worker Ashley Lynch, if an email is a scam it will more than likely ask for personal information like a person's email or credentials.
Scammers are doing this to lure students into giving away their information in order to hack their email and send out other scam emails to the student's contacts, according to Lynch.
“We’ve been informing the students to not open any email that seems weird and to call us to reset their password if they do unknowingly press on it,” Lynch said.
The FTC encourages users to look up the organization or person that is emailing them prior to opening the email in order to consider the legitimacy of the sender.
While it is seemingly unpreventable to stop these scams from being sent to students, the IT Department wants students to realize that there are cautionary actions that can be done to prevent it from causing a problem or spreading.
To read more about phishing and preventive actions you may take, visit FTC's consumer information page.