BBB: Extortion scams target virtual students who agree to cheating

WASHINGTON — Scammers are targeting students looking to get help or even cheat on their virtual assignments, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The BBB said the scammers will threaten to tell the student’s teacher or school about potential cheating if they don’t pay up.

“Scammers reach out to people when they’re vulnerable and a kid who is struggling in school is very vulnerable,” said Katherine Hutt, BBB National Spokesperson.

In many cases, it’s starting out with students looking for legitimate tutoring help with their virtual school work but if they agree to anything considered cheating like having the tutor take a test for them or write their paper, the scammer then tries to cash in.

“Before they know it, they are being threatened with extortion,” Hutt said. “If you don’t pay me this amount of money, I’m going to go tell your professor or teacher that you’re cheating.”

In some cases, the scammer may try to get hundreds of dollars from the student.

The BBB is urging students to first look into free tutoring services offered by their school or college if they need help.

If you do need to turn to online tutoring, you should check references and referrals for the person you hire to avoid a scammer.

“Parents need to talk to their kids,” Hutt said. “Make sure they understand that when they’re online, there are people that want to take advantage of them and if your child is struggling, talk to their teacher first.”