SECURITY ALERT: Widely distributed "secret shopper" scam reported


CSIT has received reports this evening of a widely distributed email scam.  The scam is similar in many respects to others about which we have previously warned, but because of the number of reports we are repeating our security alert.

The current email scam appears to come from a valid NWU email account and has the Subject “Part-Time Opportunity”.  The body of the message presents itself a recruiting applications for a job, promising up to $300 per week without interfering with any other employment or studies.  It offers a URL to follow for those interested in applying for the job.  The URL, if followed, will take the recipient to a site which collects their contact information.  The message ends with a signature suggesting that it comes from an office of NWU, specifically claiming to originate from Job Placement & Student Services.

THIS IS A SCAM.  The purpose of the scam is to engage the recipient, develop trust.  Ultimately, the scammer will provide the victim with some type of purchase request along with “payment,” often in the form of a cheque.  The victim is tricked into transmitting something of value to the scammer – typically gift cards – under the impression that the cost of the purchase is covered by the “payment” they received.  They ultimately discover that the cheque is of no value.

We are working now to re-secure the compromised account which was using to distribute this scam and to removed instances of this scam from NWU mailboxes.  Please, if you have received the message describe above, delete it and do not engage.  Similar messages with slight variations of sender, text and target URL may well follow; such scams tend to come is waves.  As always, please use extreme caution in handling your incoming email, regardless the source, and particular messages offering opportunities for easy money with little or no effort.  “Too good to be true” is usually just that!