Students receive malicious email offering reward

Olivia Medovich
Staff writer

Graphic by Erin Jackel/The News

Students were recently deceived when they received an email stating they would receive $500 for completing a 2012 Student Employment Survey.

The email supposedly from the Career Services offices was sent to students’ Murray State email accounts on Saturday.
Career Services denied having any part in sending the invalid email.
Regina Hudspeth, career specialist for Career Services, said the office did not distribute the survey and was not offering a $500 reward.
Students were requested to provide their name, address, email address and telephone number in order to complete the survey and be qualified to receive the $500 check.
After providing a telephone number, students received numerous anonymous phone calls offering a $40 gift card.
The review included questions regarding student employment status, annual income, whether or not the student had insurance, credit card debt, et cetera.
The final step in the survey required students to enter in their credit card information for two reward offers and to receive the alleged $500 check.
Garret Wheatley, help desk and user services manager, said it is detrimental for students to provide email hackers with their credit card information.
“That should be a red flag to anyone right there,” Wheatley said. “Providing unsolicited credit card information and financial information to hackers can allow them to charge purchases on that credit card and then you would be responsible for those purchases.”
Ross Meloan, director of Career Services, said his office does not condone the way this survey was sent out.
“It is not our survey,” Meloan said. “No one in education would do something like this. You could not do that in good faith.”
Meloan said college students are often targeted by these types of scams.
“It happens a lot,” he said. “I don’t know the real answer as to why it happens.”
According to, college students are easy targets for scams because many of them are out on their own for the first time and receptive to making a few extra bucks fast.
With the advance of technology it has become easier for email hackers to send information through someone else’s email account, making it hard to trace the information.
Wheatley said it is accessible for hackers to spoof student email accounts, which means to put in false information.
He said there have been scam situations on campus where the email targeted students by mentioning myGate.
“It’s hard to prevent it because email is free and everyone uses it,” he said. “It is very easy for people to use these type of attacks.”
  Wheatley said email providers do attempt to maintain a list of scammers and block them from hacking accounts.
“Usually this is called a black list and they are blocked automatically,” he said. “It’s nearly impossible to block all of them.”
Wheatley said Informational Systems attempts to educate users to be aware of possible deceitful unsolicited messages.
Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said the University does send out a survey to recent graduates to find out about the status of their employment.
“We want that data to able to tell current students and perspective students our success rate of placement,” Robertson said.
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