Posted by: rcieri | August 2, 2009

Intricate schemes cost students in E-net fraud scams

by Rachel Cieri, March 31, 2009

It’s a commonplace occurrence, according to Town of Elon Police.

A student posts a want-ad for a roommate on what he or she perceives as a safe, college-only Web site and accepts a rent payment from the person who answers the ad.

It is only after the student refunds excess money that he or she discovers the check was fraudulent.

Last month, two Elon students became a few of hundreds of college students across the nation to be duped by similar fraud scams through E-net ads.

Most recently, a student was shorted about $400 by a scam artist claiming to be interested in subletting an off-campus apartment in Phoenix Villas.

The student had posted an ad on E-net looking for someone to sublet the apartment she had secured but no longer needed.

“One individual seemed more interested than the others,” the student wrote in an e-mail to Dan Anderson, assistant vice president and director of university relations.

This individual, who called herself “Gina,” claimed to be studying in Indonesia and said she was coming to Elon in the fall.

When the student agreed to let Gina sublet the apartment, Gina said her father would send a check for an advance of several months’ rent as a way to show her commitment to the deal.

The check was more than the student had expected, but Gina had even given the student a UPS tracking number to make sure it arrived.

Shortly afterward, Gina contacted the student, asking her to use some of the money from the check to help Gina secure a car in Elon, one that she claimed she had only days to buy.

The student then became suspicious and checked the legitimacy of the bank the check came from and the company Gina said her father worked for, finding no problems.

The student could not cash the check right away because it was a weekend, so she took the money to pay for the car from her own account.

When the check was finally processed, it was found to be fraudulent.

The student contacted Gina, who told her that her father would send another check, but the student never heard from Gina again.
When the student called the company for which Gina said her father worked, she was told there was no individual there by that name.

“There is no third party guaranteeing transactions,” Anderson said of E-net ads.

Anderson said E-net administrators are planning to implement a warning to users that will be shown before an ad is posted.

Anderson posted a preliminary warning to students March 11, letting them know of the recent fraud and that anyone can view want ads even though only students, faculty and staff can post them.

These incidents are not the first instances of fraud on E-net, and while he has not kept track, Anderson remembers three or four scams in the past few years.

He believes this is the first time someone has lost cash as the result of the scam.

E-net will otherwise remain unchanged.

“E-net is such an important resource,” Anderson said. “We want to keep it operating.”

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