Scammers phishing at Sac State for student info

Andres De Leon

Spring semester at Sacramento State started with several emails alerting the campus of cyber scams targeting college students nationwide, along with phishing emails here at Sac State.

“Students have been receiving emails to their school accounts recruiting them for payroll and/or human resources positions with fictitious companies,” said Dennis Geyer, university registrar for Sac State. “The ‘position’ requires the student to provide his or her bank account number to receive a deposit and then transfer a portion of the funds to another bank account.”

No scam email has ever been successful through Sac State-related emails, though phishing emails that look to compromise the users’ information come in all shapes and sizes, according to Information Security Officer for Sac State Jeff Williams.

“Phishing is basically free to bad guys. It is a way that they can generate revenue, it is a way they can compromise more accounts, and they can get inside peoples’ infrastructure,” Williams said.

Phishing emails that do not directly ask for banking information are designed to look like well-known web pages when in reality it indirectly attempts to compromise the email users information, including banking account information, according to Williams.

Although it may seem like a direct attack, it’s much more similar to actual fishing; sending out bait into the digital world of the internet and hoping a user bites.

“They are actually not targeting us, they are really targeting the Internet, said Williams. “What they know is that the Internet is full of people and everybody is going to be compromised to phishing after you send so many phish attempts.”

Some students were not as alarmed when they received the security alerts. “I did not really think much about it,” said Fabiola Vasquez, an engineering major at Sac State. “I kept reading and I said I am too smart to fall for that.” 

Communication student Carmen Yee agrees with Williams that she is aware of scamming issues at Sac State, and takes the warnings into account.

“There have been security breaches previously and nothing too bad came out of it; so I didn’t think too much about the email.” said Yee. “I just took it as a precaution. I don’t open anything that looks suspicious at all.”

About 98 percent of the emails directed to students through their SacLink account gets filtered by the Information, Resource and Technology department. 

“It is a little surprising when we get these [spam mail],” said Williams. “There is a lot of things that tell you it is spam, but keep in mind it is all about a dial and right now the dial is getting rid of 98 percent, and so if you turn it a little bit too much all of a sudden nobody is going to get email.”

Which is why it is important to take extra precautions when opening emails. 

“Do not trust your emails, emails are free,” said Williams. “It is like if you got everything out of your mailbox from home and you get all these ads that cost money. These don’t cost money so they just keep stacking up and they do not need to look like ads, they are trying to be fictitious they are trying to bait you into doing things.”