Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) has told first year students to be wary online following the discovery of unusual advertisements posted in fresher’s group chats.
A single phone number had been posting messages in multiple Whatsapp groups and impersonating students, according to TCDSU Welfare Officer Leah Keogh in a post on the SU’s Facebook page on the 9th of October.
Initially an advertisement for a personal assistant job claiming to pay €35 per-hour for female applicants only was reported to Keogh.
Since the PA job was noticed, more adverts appeared, including an application to become a model, also for €35 per-hour and available to women only.
“The added layer of complexity now is that they were impersonating members of the group chat using their photographs and their usernames which was obviously causing students distress,” Keogh said.
Aimee Duffy, a first year in Trinity College, spoke to The College View about how she and her fellow students felt about the advertisements.
“Everyone was appalled that someone could get into our group chat in the first place. It’s extremely violating as a first year college student that already has to watch themselves constantly in real life, that also virtually now there’s the threat that someone could enter your group chat and make you a target” she said.
“It’s worrying and it doesn’t sit right with me,” said Duffy.
DCU’s Vice President for Welfare and Equality, Dean O’Reilly also condemned the mysterious adverts but said that he hasn’t received reports of any being aimed at DCU students.
“Students should remain cautious about jobs advertised through illegitimate means. If it looks concerning, it probably is. It is absolutely – and categorically – reprehensible for any person, student or otherwise, to target women and other folks with misleading jobs,” he told The College View.
“As I understand it, this is a bit more pervasive than one institution or the other. Any student is free to run something by me for a second opinion if they are concerned – I am more than happy for students to do so. In fact, I encourage it.”
In the case of TCD, Keogh reported the advertisements to the college’s Community Garda, Frank Johnson, who recommended some measures for avoiding infiltration with impostor accounts like this in the future.
Johnson urged that new group chats be made and that people seeking to enter the group should be asked for their student number or their college email address, for verification purposes.
Jamie Mc Carron
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