Fraud investigators warn of ‘deposit fraud’ increase for young adults

College students have been the unexpected target of recent fraud, according to UW Credit Union.
Published: Nov. 25, 2022 at 6:51 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - People 30 and younger are increasingly susceptible to deposit fraud. Experts say college students are particularly vulnerable.

According to a recent study shared by UW Credit Union, more than 50% of deposit fraud cases target individuals under the age of 25. UW Credit Union cited a recent study that said people under 20 years old face the highest number of online fraud attempts with 48% impacting college students.

UW Credit Union Deposit Fraud Investigator Jessica Wagner said these scams cost victims an average of $2,500 - $7,000, but some have lost as much as $25,000.

Scammers pretend to be an employer and send students a fake check, then students deposit the money, spend it or send some of it back to the scammer as directed.

”They see a dollar sign associated with a quick opportunity to make some money, and a lot of times they don’t look much further past that,” Wagner said. ”When these younger individuals fall victim to it, it’s even more devastating, especially when they’re going to college, start their lives and get their lives together.”

Wagner said the best way to prevent deposit fraud is to ask questions, check in with your bank before depositing checks from an employer you’ve never met, and if someone sends you money but asks you to send some of it back, it’s most likely a scam.

Remediation is not likely once the money is spent, and Wagner said scammers don’t often face prosecution.

”If you did the deposit, if you spent the money, if you authorized these transactions or whatever the case may be… Unfortunately, our hands our tied,” Wagner said.

UW Madison Senior Lauren Liebman fell for the recent USPS scam and said she’s also seen deposit frauds come through her email.

”It’s just crazy how advanced things are getting,” Liebman said. ”When people say they target older people, that’s not true at all. Especially when you’re in college and you have that ‘edu’ address. Everyone says that’s prime real estate to send phishing scams to so many kids, and sometimes they can be so gullible.”

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