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Alert Regarding Employment Email Fraud

Dear students, faculty and staff,

The Northwestern Information Security Office and Northwestern University Police Department (NUPD) have received reports about a widespread employment email scam targeting students nationally, including at Northwestern.  

Students have received emails from external accounts imitating Northwestern faculty members. These emails offer job opportunities, and as part of the employment process, they seek to gain access to students’ bank or credit card accounts or receive tangible items, such as laptops or credit cards. 

Signs of a fraudulent email

Common signs of this fraud campaign include invitations to apply for a job coming from a free email address (e.g., Gmail or Hotmail), a request to move the conversation to a personal email account or messaging service such as WhatsApp, as well as an offer to send a paycheck before the first day of employment.

Other common components of this and other employment fraud include:

  • Requests to send money or purchase equipment prior to work beginning
  • Job descriptions that are overly simplistic or have limited information, or that ask for a “quick task” to be completed
  • Solicitations for gift cards, equipment or cryptocurrency

What to do if you receive a suspicious email

Northwestern takes seriously the security of our students, faculty and staff and encourages you to take steps to protect yourself from fraudulent activities online. Several offices at Northwestern are available to support you. If you have received a suspicious email or believe you are experiencing employment fraud, please:

  • Immediately suspend all communication with the other party
  • Report the suspected fraud to Northwestern IT’s Information Security Office ( and the employer/job posting to Northwestern Career Advancement (
  • If you sent money to the “employer,” immediately contact your bank or credit card company to close your account and dispute any charges; next, call Northwestern University Police (847-491-3456) or your local police department’s non-emergency number to report the incident
  • File a cybercrime incident report with the FTC if the exchange happened via email or over the Internet
  • Continue to monitor your bank accounts and credit report if personal information was disclosed
  • Should students need additional support, Student Affairs has support services available — please visit the NUHelp website for more information

As a reminder, Northwestern will never ask for your personal information via email, including your NetID password, social security number, or bank account information. 

Learn more about phishing

If you have any questions or concerns about phishing activities or online security, please contact the Information Security Office at Additional information about phishing is available on Northwestern IT’s “recognizing phishing attempts” page.  

More information on how to protect yourself from online employment scams can be found on the Northwestern Career Advancement website. For other resources related to online security, please visit the Secure Northwestern page.