Email scam targets UW students and no one's doing anything about it

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Graphic by: Jill Lynn Design

When scam artists try to rip off students, sometimes they accidentally contact a journalist.

Mystery Shoppers, contacted this Imprint reporter promising paying work. Instead, the company nearly made off with $1,000.

Going by the name of Wen Zhang, Mystery Shoppers sent an email through our reporter’s supposedly secure Waterloo mailbox, offering a false job opportunity.

Six students told Imprint they had received the same email, assuming it was trustworthy, after reading “Job Placement and Student Services,” with UW’s name and address at the end of the email.

The job asked students to go to stores and buy $1,000 worth of gift cards in order to “gauge the shopping experience”.

Students then completed a survey and, if done within 24 hours, they were promised $380.
To initiate this, Mystery Shoppers’ evaluation consultant going by the name of Daniel Michael sends students a $1,380 Scotiabank cheque that later bounces, as the bank account it’s from is empty.

After receiving the cheque, students cash it into their account thinking the money is available to them and buy their gift cards at whichever store they are assigned.

They then photograph the cards and send the pictures to Daniel Michael, who gains the students’ $1,000 in gift cards and leaves the students’ account in negatives.

Imprint contacted Waterloo’s Regional Police (WRPS), as well as UW’s local CIBC, and the UW Office of the President. According to Public Information Officer André Johnson, the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre’s website holds information about Mystery Shoppers and how to avoid their scams.

“I am not aware of this particular scam being reported to WRPS by any UW students recently. There could have been individuals who reported it, but then again, unless there was financial loss, or the individual made it known that they were affiliated with UW, it may be hard to track on our end,” Johnson said.

Similarly, Caitlin Vaux, Executive Assistant of the UW Office of the President also shared this information with Information Security.

CIBC media would not speak further on the issue apart from an email to Imprint detailing precautions students could take to avoid fraud.

There seems to be very little knowledge surrounding this issue affecting many students of Waterloo.

Each office contacted by Imprint couldn’t say they were combatting the issue and only offered advice for students to keep themselves safe.