Campus police of Michigan State University noticed a scam targeting college students. Students have been receiving phone calls and letters telling them they won a scholarship worth thousands of dollars they never applied for. The phone call or letter tells the students to send in money or credit information.
Many students would react differently to receiving a suspicious call or letter about a scholarship. When asked what he would do if he received a suspicious email about a scholarship, Tom Barton, a freshman theatre and communication arts major at Gannon University, said he would be suspicious because he never applied for the scholarship before.
“I would look into the background to make sure it exists, and if it does, were there issues in the past with the scholarship,” Barton said.
Brianna Brennan, a freshman early childhood education major, said she would ask the caller a lot of questions because it does not seem right for a scholarship to ask for money and personal information.
“Looking up the scholarship would be a smart idea because if there is no information about the scholarship, then it probably does not exist,” Brennan said.
Jake Guras, a sophomore nursing major, was more hard-hitting. “The fact that they are asking for money, my initial reaction would be it’s a scam – I’d say no way,” he said. “I understand anything that asks for money should not be trusted.”
Angela Sullivan, secretary of Gannon’s education program, gave one reason why someone would try to do this.
“Greed. That’s all it is,” she said. “And usually they try to target vulnerable populations. In this case, it is people who have not experienced it yet.”
Renee Schlosser, Gannon’s associate director of financial aid, said that scammers probably think students are uneducated about financial scams, and are proficient Internet users, so it is not unlikely for someone to try to target students over the Internet.
Students are always looking for more scholarship money, and older people do not use the Internet as much, Schlosser said.
Guras said the problem is the busy lifestyle of the students.
“I think college students are overworked and tired as it is, and the fact that people are preying on them is really dishonest,” he said.
Brennan echoed Schlosser’s statement and said students make easy targets.
“Not all college students are the smartest,” she said. “Students are easier to trick into stuff like that.”
This type of scam has the ability to not only take away the money from college students, but it can also ruin a student’s credit history, Schlosser said.
There has been no sign of this scam at Gannon, but it could possibly happen at Gannon or any other college or university.
“Years ago people would go around offering roofs for elderly,” Schlosser said. “The scammers both did a very bad job or no job at all and took their money. More and more of these scams are online and they are usually able to target more people online.”
Educating students about financial scams can prevent them from being victims, Schlosser said.
“If you have to pay for a scholarship it is probably a scam,” Schlosser said. “Students should be aware that they should never supply banking information to anyone, especially Social Security number and date of birth unless it’s a trustworthy source.”