Voice of the consumer: College student luckily avoids 2 grand hit

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (The Gazette) - 11 News lead Call For Action investigator Katie Pelton pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

When a local college student got wrapped up in an elaborate scam, his grandmother was the one to raise the red flags and stop things from going further.

As I’ve told you, we are seeing more and more young adults becoming the victims of scams because they aren’t as likely to watch the news or read the paper. That’s why it’s so important for you to share this information with your kids and grandkids.

Jeremy Wright’s grandmother called our Call for Action team because she wants to warn everyone about a scam her grandson received. It started with an email that was sent to his UCCS account.

“I got an email in my school email asking me to participate in a survey for IOS versus Android users,” Jeremy said. “I figured, ‘What the heck. I’ll just respond.’ I responded I was an IOS user, put my name in there, sent it off.”

At first, Jeremy thought the survey was tied to his school. Then, he got another email asking for more personal information, like his address and phone number. The sender asked Jeremy to do a customer satisfaction report at a local grocery store, and they would pay him for his time. Sure enough, he got a check in the mail for $2,500.

“They said, ‘Go ahead and deposit the check. Keep $500 for yourself, and then use the other $1,900 or so to go buy Google Play gift cards that range from $100 to $500. Then once you’ve done that, go ahead and take pictures of the cards scratched off and then email them back to us,’” Jeremy said. “If you do it within 24 hours, we’ll send you a $500 certificate to Walmart.”

Thankfully, Jeremy tells me he used to work for Walmart and was trained to spot scams like this. Plus, when he told his grandmother about it, she knew right away that something was off.

“She said, ‘You’ll send them all the stuff they need and then about a week later your bank will say, ‘Hey you don’t have the money to do this. You owe us about two grand.’ Then you’ll be out of the money.’”

He never cashed the check and stopped responding. Eventually, the scammers stopped bugging him. I can’t imagine being in college and being out thousands of dollars, so I wanted to get the word out about this scam.

“It’s kind of a bummer to know people are out here trying to take advantage of college kids who are just trying to get an education,” Jeremy said. “Two grand would be a big hit.”

I reached out to UCCS to ask what students can do about this. If your child gets an email like this, they can report it to the IT Help Desk at helpdesk@uccs.edu. UCCS also warns that you should never give out personal or bank information over the phone or email. Never apply for a position that is emailed to you unsolicited and remember your bank will hold you accountable for bounced checks.

You can watch the full story on KKTV 11 News at 10 p.m. Tuesday.

If you think you can help people spot scams like this one, then you might want to join our Call for Action team.

We are looking for volunteers who can help mediate when someone has a problem with a company and help others spot scams. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, call 719-457-8211.

Click here to read the original column on gazette.com.