Over the past few months, we have been receiving a high volume of reports and requests for assistance from students who have become victims to scams and extortion online.
Several students have reported receiving emails to their Georgetown University email account offering fake employment opportunities, including messages like the example below impersonating a faculty member offering a research position. These scams often include scammers requesting your bank or Venmo information for payment, or sending a fake check and then asking you to deposit it, send some of the money to someone else, and keep the rest as payment.
Please be vigilant for potential scam messages, as well as phishing attempts. As a reminder, if you receive this type of email, mark it as spam in Gmail and then immediately delete it. You should also report suspicious emails to the UIS Cybersecurity Center using the Phishing Reporter button in Gmail or by forwarding the message and headers to CIRT@georgetown.edu. Check for known fraudulent emails on the UIS Phishing Examples page.
Extortion of Students Using Compromising Images
Multiple students have also reported that unknown individuals online have threatened to release compromising images of the student shared via dating or social media platforms if the student did not pay them a significant amount of money. GUPD is working to assist these students in cooperation with local and federal law enforcement, but there are often limited options in such cases.
We urge students to take caution when interacting with others online, especially those you have not met in person, and to never share private images or videos online or by phone.
Please contact GUPD at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-687-4343 to report a crime or suspicious activity. You can request to speak with a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) officer, who can provide support and resources. You can also make a report to the Title IX Office.
Staying Safe and Secure While Online
- Review University Information Services resources for being “cyber smart,” and check back regularly for information on recent scam/phishing attempts.
- Never give out personal information like your Social Security or bank account number by email, phone or text.
- Be cautious taking cashier’s checks or money orders as a form of payment. Fake checks are common, and the bank where you cash it will hold you accountable.
- Never Venmo or wire funds via Western Union, MoneyGram, etc. to someone you do not know. Requesting money via wire transfer is a common tactic used by scammers.
Associate Vice President for Public Safety
Jeanne F. Lord, Ed.D.
Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Oct. 2020 message that might be helpful/additional context:
Dear Georgetown Student,
Recently we notified you of fraudulent emails that offer student employment opportunities from Georgetown faculty. These messages are phishing attempts to induce you to spend money, and we ask that you do not respond to or interact with these emails.
In the most recent version of these emails, the scammers will ask for your phone number and Venmo or Paypal account information with promises of sending you payments. The scammer will later entice you, intimidate you or otherwise trick you into returning the money. However, because the original payment is not valid, you will be providing payments from your account directly to a scammer. If you responded to one of these emails and provided your contact information and/or payment information, please contact GUPD immediately at email@example.com or 202-687-4343
Please be aware:
- These emails are not from a Georgetown faculty member.
- Georgetown University employees are only paid through GMS, never through Venmo, paypal or checks made directly from any individuals.
- Here is an example of the fraudulent email with tips on how to spot scams.
- To verify legitimate student employment opportunities, please visit the Georgetown University Student Employment Office website where positions are posted.
- Your banking, Paypal, Venmo or other financial account information should never be shared with anyone that you do not know.
- Be especially cautious about emails from individuals claiming to be Georgetown faculty or staff that are not using “@georgetown.edu” addresses.
As a reminder, if you receive this type of email, mark it as spam in Gmail and then immediately delete it. You can also report suspicious emails by forwarding them to CIRT@georgetown.edu. You can review current phishing scams at UIS’s phishing examples website.
As we continue working and learning in virtual environments, phishing and other scams are on the rise.We advise caution and encourage you to improve your security by reviewing online best practices on the UIS Security website.
VP for Information Technology and CIO