A scam cost an area college student a lot of money. The victim, a 21 year-old Smithfield woman, said she received an email last month on her UNC Chapel Hill student account. The email appeared to come from a business wanted to hire personal assistants. The email claimed the personal assistants would run errands and shop for clients and would be paid for their time.
The student responded to the email and within days received a $2,850 check in the mail saying the money was to cover expenses for running errands. She was instructed to deposit the money in her bank account. A short time later, the student received an email indicating they would not need her services after all and was instructed to return the money. The victim returned the money only to learn days later the original $2,850 check she deposited was counterfeit.
According to the Federal Trade Commission website the ‘shopping for cash scam’ has been around since at least 2015. It not only targets college students but anyone with an email address. The scam occurs year-round but seems to be more prevalent around the holidays.
The victim reported the incident to the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office which is now investigating.