College student nearly falls victim to secret shopper scam

(WJAR) — A student at the Community College of Rhode Island is warning others about an alarming scam targeting college students.

May Murphy thought she was hired as a mystery shopper for Walmart but turns out, it was all a lie.

NBC 10’s Leanna Faulk speaks with a Community College of Rhode Island student who is warning others about an alarming scam where she was led to believe she was hired as a mystery shopper.

Murphy said she received an email from what she thought was CCRI’s Career Services Department.

“It came from career services, so I wasn’t thinking it was anything but a real job,” said Murphy in an exclusive interview with NBC 10 News. “It said to click on a link, and it asked for my name, address and phone number.”

The job was to be mystery shopper.

“Your task will be to evaluate the nearest Walmart store around you,” it read in a memo mailed to Murphy’s home.

Attached with the memo was a check for $2,879. The memo instructed Murphy to deposit the check into her bank account, buy three blank money orders and ship them to a supervisor.

“I took it right to Walmart and Walmart said they couldn’t cash it because it was over $2,500,” said Murphy.

May Murphy was mailed a memo and a check for $2789 by a company she thought hired her as a mystery shopper for Walmart. The memo instructed Murphy to deposit the check into her bank account, buy three blank money orders and ship them to her supervisor. (May Murphy)

Text messages obtained by NBC10 News revealed a supervisor asking Murphy to deposit the money directly to her debit card. Murphy tried but the request was denied.

Murphy said she reached out to the company listed on the check on Facebook. In a screenshot of the messages, a representative for the company confirms they have an ongoing fraud case related to the check.

“I should have did this before but I wasn’t thinking because it came from career services,” she said.

May Murphy was mailed a memo and a check for $2789 by a company she thought hired her as a mystery shopper for Walmart. The memo instructed Murphy to deposit the check into her bank account, buy three blank money orders and ship them to her supervisor. (May Murphy)

Amy Kempe with the Community College of Rhode Island told NBC 10 News the email did not come from career services. Kempe said the scammer sent the email to several students posing as the career center.

“This is from a completely outside entity,” said Kempe. “Even as good as our IT system is to catch spam, sometimes, they do get through.”

She said they haven’t been alerted of any student information or databases being compromised. She believes the scammers likely found student’s emails online from external sites.

Murphy wants to share her story as a warning for other students desperate for money ahead of the holidays.

“Very glad that I wasn’t able to cash it because I don’t know what trouble I could have gotten in for it,” she said.

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