We’ve all heard stories about scam artists targeting consumers on the internet. Now, community colleges appear to be in the crosshairs of online scammers. The North Carolina community college system has discovered hundreds of bogus electronic applications mixed in with legitimate ones, and as they try to sort them out, they are also trying to figure out why they are being targeted.
It appears that many of these bogus applications are not coming from real people, but bad actors in other countries making up fake identities. They are using those fake names to pose as college applicants, hoping to be issued a student email account. While most four-year institutions don’t give students an email account until they’ve started school, many state community colleges issue applicants an email address as soon as they apply.
“Our colleges have a business desire to provide prospective students with branded “.edu” email accounts early in the application process for ease of communications and engagement….,” North Carolina Community College System’s Brian Long told WECT. “[D]isreputable parties are submitting fraudulent applications primarily for the purpose of obtaining .edu email addresses, which they then sell.”