Dog-sitting scam breaches Marian’s student population

Bradey Resulta, Writer

A Marian University forensic science student was looking forward to helping solve crimes – instead she recently found herself a victim of one.   

Senior Natalie Orre was affected by a mass chain-email scam that went viral at a variety of colleges/universities just recently this semester.

In Orre’s case, the scammer posed as a previous student from Marian and stated that their aunt was moving to the Fond du Lac area soon and needed someone to be a dog sitter.  

The email promised $350 a week for someone willing to dog-sit two dogs for three hours a day, and less than five days a week. After the initial contact, it only took two weeks for the aftermath to unfold.  

Through a series of emails and text messages, Orre said she maintained a consistent line of communication with the woman who supposedly needed a dog sitter. The scammer posed as a pregnant woman who was moving to Fond du Lac with her husband from California.  

 Orre said when she expressed her interest in the job, the scammer then told her that she would be receiving a check for $2,450 in the mail. With this check, Orre was instructed to keep $350 as job security, spend $100 on supplies that the dogs may need while she watched them, and transfer the $2,000 left over to a supposed store manager that knew the couple.  

When she attempted to cash the check at her bank, which she had been a member of for years, she said she was informed that the check was fraudulent and that her accounts would be closed.  

This was an especially troubling aspect of the situation for Orre because she still had student loans pending, which is what she would need to continue her college education. 

This is a common scam that occurs to people that offer services in child, pet, and home care. Scammers pose as a potential client but send fraudulent checks to be cashed and sent to a third party. While it may only take a couple of days for a bank to cash a check, it sometimes takes weeks for them to notice that it is fraudulent, which is what makes it a successful scam.  

The scammers target vulnerable college students who would be optimistic about earning cash for an easy job. They seemed to know that college students are often looking for work that fits with their already busy schedule, and that many of them would be willing to consider this work because students are often low on funds. The scammers tactfully exploited vulnerability and hopefulness that college students are associated with.

Because of this event, Orre said she feels that her safety has been compromised as the scammer has her address and phone number. She said that she is considering taking the matters to the local police department in case anything or anyone threatens her in the future.  

Orre offers advice to her future self and anyone else that is considering looking for jobs online, “Look into it more, see if anyone else had problems with it, and actually talk to the people on the phone,” she said.