RETRACTED: UIPD warns users to be cautious while using Virtual Job Board

By Atoosa Sayeh

Two reports of job scams were filed last month, causing the Division of Public Safety to issue a reminder to students and others to be cautious when looking for employment on the University’s Virtual Job Board.

According to Patrick Wade, communications specialist for the Department of Public Safety, the reports were made back in June from people who applied to jobs with fraudulent employers.

“The fraudulent employer asked them to do some weird menial tasks, and then the employer would eventually ask them to wire money overseas,” Wade said. “And fortunately enough, the job applicants recognized that this was a little fishy, and they stopped communication right there and reported it to the police.”

Wade said job applicants need to be skeptical and keep a very sharp eye out for people who may be trying to scam them for money.

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“There are people out there who want to trick you out of your money,” Wade said. “We’ve been telling people that legitimate employers will not ask you for money before you’ve actually been hired. It’s not a thing that happens in the professional world.”

Wade said another common trait between the fraudulent employers was that they asked for their applicants to set up a Yahoo messenger account for communication purposes and asked applicants to buy supplies with the promise of reimbursement, which never came.

Wade said the reason why the scams keep happening may be because the website is monitored by people and not by any form of “automatic mechanisms,” which can lead to a delay in a suspicious job posting being taken down.

Susan Gershenfeld?, director of Illinois Promise Student Services for the Office of Student Financial Aid, said the initial job posting on the University’s Virtual Job Board is open to the public.

“We keep the postings open to everybody because we find the website to be a very valuable resource to the community,” Gershenfeld? said. “It allows students to have means to pay for tuition and books and things like that, while also gaining valued experiences.”

Wade said the online job board not only helps students but people in the Champaign-Urbana community as well.

“If they need some household work, gardening or babysitting or things like that, this is a really good place to post those jobs,” Wade said. “And they have the chance of getting really smart, really experienced students who are capable of doing those jobs.”

La Vonne Novakofski, assistant director for the Office of Student Financial Aid, said the online job board is closely monitored because it is a valuable resource to the community.

“The board is obviously monitored, and any time there’s a suspicious posting, the people who are running the board do a really good job of jumping on it quickly and taking it down,” Novakofski said.

Novakofski said a delay could sometimes occur in taking down a suspicious post, which could lead to students potentially falling for scammers.

Since the fraudulent job postings, the Virtual Job Board has posted a warning at the stop of the page cautioning users to exercise care when using the website. The warning reads: “Do not apply for or accept any job that wants to send you a check in advance of being hired or actually working. This is most likely a fraud.”

Wade said to contact the police if a job posting or employer’s demands seem strange.

“Any time you suspect that something is wrong, let the police know,” Wade said. “We have a lot of experience with this, and we can provide some guidance on whether or not it’s suspicious.”

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Editor’s note: This story ran in the Monday, July 20, 2015, issue of The Daily Illini and included quotes that were attributed to Gail Rooney and Bradley Woodruff.

However, a few days later, it came to the attention of the editors that those two had not in fact been interviewed for the story upon receiving an email from the assistant director for communications and marketing at The Career Center, where Rooney and Woodruff are employed.

The Daily Illini ran a correction after the reporter informed the editor that the two people actually interviewed were Susan Gershenfeld? and La Vonne Novakofski, and Rooney and Woodruff were mistakenly attributed.

But again, almost two weeks later, the reporter and editor received an email from Gershenfeld saying she had not been interviewed for the story. She had been out of the country at the time of publication and when the reporter was writing the story. Novakofski also said he had not been interviewed. 

We understand these false attributions reflect poorly upon those involved and the publication. We sincerely regret the error and apologize to the readers and all those affected by the egregious error.

We will continue to work toward attaining full accuracy in our reporting and publication.