Scam targets job-seekers online
Scammers know finding a job can be tough. So crooks have started targeting people looking for work on popular employment websites like ZipRecruiter, Monster and CareerBuilder.
“It’s very cruel,” said Nancy Stephens of Vancouver, who was contacted by a prospective employer by email after posting her resume online. “They said they got my information off ZipRecruiter and they wanted to set up an online interview.”
Stephens used instant messaging through Google Hangouts to speak with someone claiming to be from the company’s human resources department.
“They got back to me in about a half-an-hour and said, 'You’ve been approved and we want to hire you,'” explained Stephens.
The scammers were able to fool Stephens by using a legitimate utility company’s name, logo and letterhead. They sent her an employment contract for an administrative position.
“It was good wages -- $18.75 to work from home,” said Stephens. “All along I said this was too good to be true.”
The company sent Stephens a $5,500 check by overnight delivery. She was instructed to deposit the money into her account.
When a bank teller examined the check, she told Stephens it was a fake.
“She took one look at it and said this is a forgery,” Stephens said. “I was pretty devastated.”
The scam works like this: The crooks send a realistic looking check. You’re asked to deposit it and send money back in return. By the time you or your bank realize the check is a phony, the crooks are long gone. They don’t answer calls or email. There’s no job and you’re on the hook to pay back the bank.
“They are taking advantage of people who are desperate,” said Chuck Harwood, spokesperson for the Federal Trade Commission.
“When you are looking for work, you are very vulnerable,” said Nan, a Vancouver resident who asked to be identified only by her first name.
Nan received a text message after posting her resume on a popular employment website.
“It just came out of the blue,” said Nan, who exchanged text messages and emails with a woman claiming to be from a medical services company based overseas.
“You are excited for the prospect of interviewing for a job. When something like this comes along you are very likely to believe it,” said Nan.
A prospective employer sent her a packet of employment information, including a check. That’s when Nan realized there was no job.
“No employer is going to send you a check out of the blue. Not for $3,800, sight unseen,” said Nan.
The scammers can be persistent.
Traci Cruchelow of Beaverton applied for a job as a retail consultant on various employment websites. She was contacted by a potential employer about a job as a secret shopper.
“He texted and called me multiple times, probably five, six, seven times within the past couple of days. It was just non-stop,” she said. “I was like, 'No.' I know those are typically scam jobs.”
Just like the other women, the scammers sent Cruchelow an employment contract and a fake check. She didn’t deposit it.
Cruchelow worried about all of the information she provided on the employment website. She’d been communicating with an unknown person who clearly seemed to be up to no good.
“They have my address. They have my phone number. They know my name,” she said.
“The challenge for consumers is how do you give enough information to make yourself attractive to an employer without opening yourself up to questionable job offers, scams and fraudulent schemes,” said Harwood of the FTC.
Harwood says many employment websites allow users to restrict who can see their resume.
If you have been the victim of a job scam, contact the Oregon Department of Justice or Federal Trade Commission.
To avoid job scams:
- Check the company website. You might even call to make sure the job opening in legitimate.
- Watch out of on-the-spot offers. Most companies want to speak with a candidate in-person or by phone.
- Don’t pay to get the job. Employers shouldn’t ask you for money.
- Watch for typos or bad grammar. Scam job offers are often riddled with spelling mistakes.