Security alert: beware of online scammers targeting international students
We have recently received reports of a scam in which international students at Deakin have been contacted with an unsolicited offer for employment.
Several international students have reported they’ve received an email from a travel group offering them a job for which they never applied. It is possible the scammers contacted the students with details obtained from their LinkedIn profiles.
You should be wary of emails or other communications you may receive that are unsolicited or unexpected – you will not be offered a legitimate job in Australia by someone you do not know if you have not submitted an application.
What sort of scams do I need to look out for?
In addition to being suspicious of unsolicited job offers, police and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch have also recently issued warnings about other known scams that are often targeted towards international students in Australia.
- Please be aware of scammers who are preying on people’s fears around COVID-19 in attempts to extort money and/or potentially infiltrate our personal devices and steal sensitive information. Deakin’s Cybersecurity team have published details of known COVID-related phishing emails and other online scams.
- Police have also issued warnings to the Chinese community in Australia concerning an extortion scam in which victims are threatened with deportation and imprisonment in China. If you are called or contacted by someone making threats about arrest or deportation, it is very frightening to receive these calls, but it is a scam. You should hang up or ignore such messages, and then report this to police.
- Similarly, we are also aware of a scam in which students have been contacted by someone pretending to be from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or police, saying an arrest warrant or legal proceedings have been initiated against them for unpaid taxes. The scammers then request the student pays a sum of money or ‘fine’ using gift cards or money to have the ‘charges’ dropped. Again, this is frightening but you should ignore such calls or emails and report this to police.
- Beware of anyone contacting you who asks you to pay for something with gift cards, or who asks for your personal or financial details (such as by taking a survey or entering a competition) in exchange for gift cards. No legitimate business or organisation in Australia will ever ask you to purchase gift cards as payment. Ignore these messages and report them to Scamwatch or police.
What can I do to stay safe from online scams?
Remember to remain cautious about your online activity and to stop and think before you click!
- Be aware – the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family is to know about these scams, how they work and warn your friends and family.
- Maintain awareness of the messages you receive via email, text or on social media. If you receive junk or unsolicited emails or messages, ignore and delete them.
- If someone contacts you to say you may be arrested or deported, hang up the phone or ignore these messages. While it can feel scary to receive such calls or messages, this is a common scam and you should tell the police.
- If you receive a university-related email you’re unsure about, whether it’s from someone you don’t know, the details appear incorrect or the email address looks odd, do not click on any links or attachments in the email. Immediately report the email to Deakin’s cybersecurity team via the ‘Phish Alert’ toolbar in your Outlook window. If you’re not using Outlook, forward the email to [email protected]. There are no consequences for reporting a legitimate email, so please remember to always err on the side of caution.
- If you receive a suspicious email that appears to come from an official organisation such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or World Health Organisation (WHO), or a charity, report the email to the official organisation through their website. If you want to make a charity donation, go to the charity website of your choice to submit your payment. Type the charity’s web address in your browser instead of clicking on any links in emails or other messages.
- Please bookmark and regularly visit Deakin’s cybersecurity blog to stay up to date with the latest known online scams and to find out more about staying safe online. This blog also contains handy hints on how you can protect your personal information when using your mobile phone or shopping online, and how to report scams on various social media sites.
- You can report scams at www.scamwatch.gov.au. You can also follow @scamwatch_gov on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts.
- The ACCC’s Little Black Book of Scams is an essential tool for recognising scams (it is available in various languages including Simplified Chinese on the ACCC website).
Cybercriminals intentionally play on our emotions, particularly during times of emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic, to force people to make decisions quickly. Always stop to think about a request for you to click or download a link or provide personal information, and whether the request is appropriate.
Remember these tips and stay safe online!