GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Guilford County Schools teachers and staff are on summer vacation for several more weeks. Which means, many of those employees are enjoying the time off, while others like Darlene are working to make extra money. 

“As a 10-month employee I try to work during the summer,” said Darlene.

Just before school let out for the summer, Darlene was looking for a job when she came across an email sent to her district account. The email was from what appeared to be a co-worker and directed her to a job opportunity and a link. 

“I clicked on the link and it said you can earn (this much) dollars doing surveys,” said Darlene.

Within minutes, she had logged on to the website, filled out an application and submitted personal information while applying for the job. About a week later she went to her mailbox and received an envelope in the mail with a check for $2,850.

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"I was like wow (they) sent me a check already and I haven’t even started working,” said Darlene.

The check was from Yakima Federal Savings out of Washington and came with instructions. She was told to deposit the money in her bank account then buy five $500 Best Buy gift cards. She was directed to scratch off the numbers and call the company. 

“That’s when I realized this was a scam and contacted (School District) Human Resources,” said Darlene.

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What was concerning was that the original email came from the account of a district employee. As it turns out, the email account of that employee was hacked or spoofed and while it looked like it was an internal email it was a scam. 

“It is unfortunate, and we take all kinds of precautions, our software constantly scans our email system,” said Guilford County School District COO, Scott McCully.

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School districts are not the only businesses being targeted by scammers hoping to cash in on people who are looking to make some extra money. Scams like this, are not new but it only takes a few people to fall for it to make the scammers a lot of money.

So how do you know if the email is spoofed or the job opportunity is a scam? The email is a bit tricky and if done well is almost impossible to know unless you reach out to the person and simply ask if they sent an email with a job opportunity to you.

As for the scam, never buy gift cards and read the security numbers to someone over the phone. The check, while appearing legit is not attached to any account and will be flagged after a couple of days. Whatever money deposited will then be subtracted from your account.

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Darlene didn’t fall for the scam, but fears others could and is concerned the scammers now have her email and personal information. The school district is warning employees to be vigilant and smart when responding to emails, even ones sent by what appears to be a co-worker.

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