Scammers are taking advantage of recent college graduates in record numbers. Here's how they're able to steal their money and information.

Criminals have launched a new and very sophisticated fraud scheme that is personalized for their target.

The Federal Trade Commission recently sounded the alarm over this convincing new scam that has too many young and vulnerable people falling for it.

The FTC warned students scammers are prowling the internet for people who publicly reveal their name, school, number, email, hobbies, degree, and other identifying information.

Photo Credit - Galina Peshkova/Thinkstock

Once a criminal finds such information, they create a personalized scam to their target. They pose as a recruiter and claim their target's school dean or one of their professors recommended them for a job opening

These fraudsters will then send an ordinary looking job application for the student to fill out, which requests the usual information so it doesn't raise suspicions. The application is the first step of a long scheme devised to get the student excited and more willing to part with their sensitive information.

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"Then comes a series of virtual interviews followed by a lucrative job offer," the FTC warns, and that is where the trap is put into motion. The scammer will send what appears to be paperwork by Human Resources, which asks for "the student’s Social Security number, bank account or driver’s license information, or other personal data."

The goal is to ultimately steal their identity or bank information right from under their nose.

Paula Bronstein, Getty Images
Paula Bronstein, Getty Images

Some scammers will take it a step farther and engage in what's known as a fake check scam.

Some scammers may even send a student "a generous check" and claim it's a sign on bonus to help them purchases the proper office equipment like laptops or company phone. That student will also be instructed to send a portion of the cash to someone else, as it will cover their training expenses.

However, that check will ultimately bounce and the student will be on the hook.

How to Avoid Being Scammed

Graduation hat with degree paper on a stack of book

The FTC noted that while the scam is sophisticated, it still has some major red flags.

The first step all job applicants should do when approached by a recruiter is look them up to see if they're legitimate. You should Google their name and email address. If something doesn't check out, students should immediately warn their college or university's career services office.

A second red flag is when the recruiter hosts the interview in any app, like Signal or WhatsApp. This also goes for interviews conducted via text, email or online chat

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The FTC says slam on the brakes when the recruiter begins inquiring about personal information or bank-account numbers, or promises to send a check to cover work-from-home equipment. Recruiters can't seek this information and documents that do ask for this can only come from Human Resources.

If you cross paths with a scammer like what's described above, report it immediately to your university or college, and the FTC at

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