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New Online Employment Scam Targets Job-Seekers

Posted: 06.28.2017

Rebecca Harpster
Golden Gate Better Business Bureau

Are you currently looking for a job and using online job sites to aid your search? If so, watch out for employment scams! BBB is alerting job-seekers about an employment scam hi-jacking the name of legitimate Canadian construction companies. Most consumers targeted by this work-from-home scam have been from the United States.

The scammers post work-from-home administrative assistance positions on an online job site. Applicants have reported losing thousands of dollars after the scammer instructed them to deposit fraudulent checks and then transfer funds to a different account. This type of fake check scam is commonly used in employment scams.

In 2016, consumers across North America reported more than 2,000 employment scams to BBB Scam Tracker. According to the BBB Risk Index, employment scams are the third riskiest scam to consumers. The BBB Risk Index measures scam risk along three dimensions: exposure (how likely you are to be exposed to the scam), susceptibility (if you are exposed, how likely you are to lose money), and monetary loss (if you do lose money, how much it is likely to be).

Employment scams are the 5th most reported scam to BBB Scam Tracker, and have a relatively high susceptibility (16.7%) and median loss ($671). According to the BBB Risk Index, the group most susceptible to employment scams are males age 25-34, the primary contact method is email and checks are the primary payment method when money is lost. To read more about the BBB Risk Index and scam risk rankings, visit bbb.org/riskreport.

Although employment scams are risky, they’re also avoidable. In an employment scam, you see a job posting online or receive an email from a “recruiter” about a position with great pay that allows you to work from home. Usually, the name of a real business or government agency is hi-jacked. Even BBB has been impersonated! After applying, you get a quick response and are often “hired” without an interview, phone call or in-person meeting.

Once you’re “hired”, you’re asked to pay upfront for “training” or “supplies”. You’re often immediately asked for personal and banking information to run a credit check or set up a direct deposit. Employment scams often entail re-packaging and re-shipping merchandise, or wiring money. The ultimate goal is to steal the “employee’s” money or identity.

Watch out for:

  • Generic positions that allow you to work from home and make too-good-to-be-true money. Scammers post positions that don’t require special training and appeal to a wide range of applicants. If the job is for a company you’ve heard of, check the real company’s job page to see if the position is posted there.
  • Suspicious hiring practices. A legitimate company won’t hire a candidate on-the-spot without an interview. You should never have to pay for supplies or training. If you’re asked for personal or financial information immediately, be careful supplying it.
  • Strange tasks. If you’re asked to re-ship packages, watch out. You could be sending stolen or counterfeit items and be breaking the law. It’s also a red flag if you’re asked to wire money. Whether you’re “overpaid” for your paycheck and are asked to wire a portion back, or if you’re transferring money from one party to another – just don’t! The original check will bounce, and you’ll be out the money you wired.

When looking for a job, don’t let yourself get blinded by excitement. Watch out for red flags and do your research. To learn more about employment scams, visit bbb.org/employmentscam. If you come across an employment scam or any other fraud, report it to BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker to help warn others.

You can reach your BBB at info@bbbemail.org or (510) 844-2000, or by visiting goldengate.bbb.org

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