University of Wisconsin–Madison
Online scam

Beware of scams targeting students

Have you ever received one of those unsolicited emails offering a job with great pay for little to no work? Yeah, it sounded too good to be true, and you’re right—it was a scam. Job scams often target students.

Here’s an example of a recent job scam – Brand Ambassador scam for the 2020 U.S. Open Championship:

Brand Ambassador

We seek interested candidates to go about their usual routine with the advert of the “2020 U.S. Open Championship” on their Car

Must have a Car, Truck, Van or Motorcycle.

$300 weekly including $50 for gas

Interested candidates should contact

Sincerely James Keegan
Hiring Coordinator/Logistics Supervisor

Another popular scam is the gift card scam where you receive an urgent request to contact someone (who appears to be very important), and they request that you send them a gift card using your personal funds:

Fake Urgent message purporting to be from from Robert Golden, Dean of the UW-Madison School of Medicine and public health reading "Are you availabvle right now?"

Don’t fall for it.

How can you stay safe and not get scammed?

Learn how to identify scams and report them by following these simple tips. Even if a request looks genuine, be skeptical and look for warning flags like these:

  • The message is unsolicited and asks you to update, confirm or reveal personal identity information (e.g., full SSN, account numbers, NetID, passwords, protected health information).
  • The message creates a sense of urgency.
  • The message has an unusual From address or an unusual Reply-To address instead of a “” address.
  • The (malicious) web site URL doesn’t match the name of the institution that it allegedly represents.
  • The initial part of the URL doesn’t have an “s” after “http”—indicating it is not a secure site.
  • The link in the pop-up doesn’t match the printed text.
  • The message is not personalized. Valid messages from banks and other legitimate sources usually refer to you by name.
  • There may be grammatical errors.

What do you do if you receive an email that you believe is spam or a phishing attempt?

Get more information: Scams to avoid: protecting your online identity (source: