Email Scams Circulating Among Club Officers Again

Club officers at California Lutheran University are receiving emails from an illegitimate organization in an attempt to drive traffic to its website.

One such email, from the website Studypool, offered club sponsorships to students in exchange for listing its site link on the club’s home page.

The StudyPool emails went to several club officers, including junior Aaron Aragones, co-president of the Cal Lu Hikes club. The emails

Aragones received an email that came to his Cal Lutheran account from [email protected] asking if his club would be interested in receiving a sponsorship from the education business, which offers on-demand tutoring. Aragones responded to the email saying his club would be interested if he received additional information about the offer.

The sender of the StudyPool email promised $100 to Aragones if he listed StudyPool.com as a sponsor of Cal Lu Hikes on the club website and alluded to larger donations in the future.

The email included links to several websites that indicated StudyPool was a sponsor of Ivy League clubs including Stanford’s women’s club volleyball. Following the link leads to a website with a 2016-2017 game schedule for the team and several old photographs.

Additionally, in order to receive funding, Aragones was given specific instructions for adding the StudyPool site logo with a clickable link on a Cal Lutheran webpage and two sentences endorsing the site as a tutoring resource.

“At that point it was obviously sketchy,” Aragones said. “So I didn’t reply.”

Cambria Teter, coordinator for Student Involvement for Student Life, said her job is to protect the clubs on campus. When StudyPool emails began circulating last year, Teter sent a cease and desist letter to end its campaign, which worked for a while, she said. But this semester, the emails have returned.

Last month, Teter sent an email to all club officers warning them of a scam being sent through email. The StudyPool emails have started circulating online reviews of the company and reflect no payout being sent to clubs after cross-posting the StudyPool site link.

“This sponsorship is a scam. They are trying to increase traffic to their site and will never deliver on any of the sponsorship money they promise,” Teter wrote in the email sent to club officers.

Teter said it is against campus club and organization rules to sponsor any outside organization. She said another cease and desist letter has been sent to StudyPool this semester and said she hopes the emails will stop.

Teter said that despite the trouble with this site, clubs are encouraged to fund raise to promote their missions. Any money that is raised by a club’s fundraising effort is theirs to spend without prior approval from the student government but is still subject to club spending rules and regulations. For example, clubs cannot use their funds to purchase alcohol for an event, even if the funds were raised rather than allocated by Senate.

Another email from a third-party company has been circulating among club officers and has reportedly offered to book reservations with local restaurants for club fundraisers.

The organization, GroupRaise, has mixed reviews online. One Facebook review said the restaurant booked through  GroupRaise was not aware the reviewer’s party was coming. This concern was repeated in several comments. Other reviews were positive with no issues reported.

Local restaurants PizzaRev and Stacked have previously hosted fundraising events for Cal Lutheran clubs without the use of a third-party organizer. Teter said the best way to make fundraising arrangements with a restaurant is to contact them directly and avoid email offers altogether.

Katherine Lippert
Reporter