After Students Scammed via University Website, Rutgers Career Services Improves Job Scam Awareness

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—In the digital age, there’s at least one shady industry that’s growing rapidly: internet scams.

Scam artists have found easy targets in the massive numbers of unemployed individuals and college students who are searching, sometimes desperately, for employment.

Chantal Supardi, a new transfer student at Rutgers University, became a victim of a job scam in December after she applied to a job posting through Rutgers online career management system, CareerKnight.

According to William Jones, the director of operations and strategic initiatives at career services, they filter thousands of jobs through the site and “unfortunately, can’t always catch all of them.”

They rely heavily on students to report to them if they see a suspicious post.

But, after Supardi met with Janet Jones and Wenylla Reid, the director and associate director of employer development at career services, she learned that a student had in fact reported the posting “fishy.”

“They knew that the job I applied to was a scam and I asked them why didn’t they give the students who applied to the job any warnings? If they could send out 50 thousand emails warning them of job scams, why couldn’t they send the few who applied to that posting a warning?” Supardi said.

“If you’re going to block that post from the site, it makes no sense to not give a warning.”

Jones said career services is proactively working to include more educational information to the site.  Since administrators learned of the incident, they have improved their outreach to students, offering more educational material about internet fraud and scams to the CareerKnight system.

In response to questions from this reporter, Career Services has added announcements and a link to a fraud warning to the homepage of the site informing students to be careful of job scams.

Administrators also sent out a mass email to Rutgers students advising them to be careful with job scams, educating them of red flags they should look out for.

These measures should have been taken earlier, said Supardi, who sufferred financially from the scam.

“Why couldn’t they send an email warning us in the beginning of the semester or the middle of the semester? Why do they post the warnings only right after a student gets victimized from scams on the website?” Supardi asked.

A shakeup in the leadership of Career Services is the topic of a lawsuit filed by four former employees last year, as we reported last month.

Supardi is a transfer student in her first semester at Rutgers, after previously taking time off from school because of financial restraints.

Eager to acquire job experience, she was happy to know that Rutgers provided students with a system that helps students find employement.

Supardi didn’t think that CareerKnight would allow the posting of scams, having never seen any material on the site informing her to be careful of fraudulent postings.

Other CareerKnight users confirmed they had never seen cautionary material on the site until changes were implemented in response to Supardi's complaints.

CareerKnight does indeed provide a disclaimer to uses. However, it was not easily visible to students.

Supardi said she applied to three jobs, including the scam, before ever seeing the disclaimer.  

Job scams are a national phenomenon that’s happening to all universities, not just Rutgers, said Jones.

Jones advise students to contact career services immediately if they feel suspicious about a job. His advice to students: “If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.”

Editor's Note: Chantal Supardi is the twin sister of the author of this article.