Better Business Bureau warns of homework helper scam

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Better Business Bureau is warning of the homework helper scam after receiving reports of scam tutors making money by threatening to report cheating students.

The BBB said the scam happens when college and high school students hire “tutors” to complete their task assignments. These students then find themselves in an exhortation scam, with the scammers threatening to expose the student as a cheater.

These students find the scammers by searching for tutoring companies that will do the work for them. Victims report paying a couple hundred dollars for help with assignments for math and technology classes.

When the students pay, the BBB reports the tutor demands more money, claiming it is for additional research or another excuse. If the student refuses to pay, the tutor sends threatening emails or texts, claiming they will contact the student’s school and expose them as a cheater.

“Once you ask for your money back, they will try to email your school or teacher to tell them that you use them and they did your homework,”  one victim reported to Scam Tracker.

The BBB offered tips to avoid this scam. Saying hiring someone to complete school assignments is cheating. If people are looking to hire a tutor to help better understand a class material, they should:

  • Ask for referrals. Asking friends, family, and teachers if they have any recommendations. Some schools even offer Honor Society students as free or reduced-cost tutors, so asking at school is a great place to start. 
  • Check references. You should ask the individual tutor or tutoring service for references, and then contact them. It’s best to speak to at least three references. Ask about their experience with the tutor and what sort of results they saw. 
  • Decide availability and rates up front. While tutors may charge extra for additional sessions before a big test, this should all be discussed and negotiated upfront. Last minute surprises and demands are signs of a less-than-scrupulous business. 

For more information, people can read BBB’s tips for hiring a tutor or find a qualified tutor near them.

If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams.

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