Stanford students receive prank email regarding graduation requirements

April 23, 2018, 6:25 p.m.

Update 4/24/2018 9:30 a.m.: Undergraduate Advising and Research confirmed that the email was fraudulent and “originated from an external source that was forged to appear from a Stanford account.” An investigation, according to the office, is underway.

 At 5:20 p.m. on Monday, members of the senior class and some Stanford students in other years received a prank email that appeared to be from senior class president Madilyn Ontiveros ’18 notifying them they would not be graduating in June due to failure to fulfill the nonexistent “WAY_BS Requirement: Behavioral Sciences.”

“Due to technical issues with Axess, we have only just become aware of this issue,” the email said. “In order to remedy this oversight, enrollment for the following classes has been reopened until Friday, April 27 at 5:00 p.m.” The email then listed five real classes with accompanying links to each class on Explore Courses.

Ontiveros’ e-mail name was changed to “Degree Progress,” and the email was signed as such, claiming to be sent from the “Stamford University Office of the University Registrar.”

Ontiveros confirmed on Facebook that her email account was hacked, and apologized for the confusion.

“Please be assured this email is fake … I have already been in contact with the University to handle the problem,” she wrote.

The email initially caused anxiety for students who feared a phishing scam. In a Facebook post, Andrew Jabara ’18 wrote, “PSA: If you got an email titled ‘[ACTION REQUIRED] Missing Graduation Requirements,’ delete it. Someone got hacked, and there is no such thing as the “WAYS: Behavioral Sciences” … requirement … clicking on any of the links in the email will likely compromise your account as well.”

Anxieties about WAYS requirements also ran high among seniors who received the email on Monday evening.

“It wasn’t funny to me,” said Asha Isaacs ’18. “I can imagine what kind of stress this caused everyone but I finished my WAYS my sophomore year, so I was pretty sure it was a scam. Either way, this is a terrible prank to play.”

No reports of phishing have been confirmed by The Daily. A Daily staffer who clicked on one of the links was redirected to the Stanford Box system. Another Daily staffer was redirected to ExploreCourses.

Senior class cabinet member Sharyn Lee ’18 posted on Facebook, “A really not nice person hacked a friend’s email and gave quite a few of us a heart attack. It is a falsified email, and holds no credibility.”


This article has been updated.


Contact Julia Ingram at jmingram ‘at’

Julia Ingram ’21 was The Daily's Volume 256 editor-in-chief. She is a New York City native majoring in English literature and working toward a career in news reporting. Contact her at jingram ‘at’

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