SAINT ANTONY – As job seekers scour online listings and submit resumes, scammers are working overtime as Texas reports employment scams tripled from March to June, according to the Better Business Bureau.
“We’re going to see this spike continue over the next few months,” Jason Meza said with the BBB. “It’s a trap that’s easy to fall into.”
Courtney Bacon nearly fell for a scam.
“I applied on Indeed for work-from-home jobs,” she said.
The expectant mother of three said she was looking for extra pay to make ends meet. When she received a text telling her she was qualified for remote and flexible work as a personal assistant, it sounded perfect – almost too good to be true.
“There was no interview, nothing,” Bacon said. She thought that was strange and kept asking questions.
The employer, who claimed to own a golf business in New York, offered the job which involved running errands, making payments and sending mail. It offered good pay and hope.
“The money was there, good money,” Bacon said. “It wasn’t outrageous, but it was at the same time.”
If she worked no more than 10 hours a week, the position would pay her $750 and she could start immediately.
“I guess I was really desperate for some kind of income because we have all these kids and these mouths to feed,” Bacon said.
She was skeptical. Then “Joe” asked him to go to Staples to buy some check paper. He emailed a cashier’s check that she could print and deposit in the bank.
“No,” Bacon said, she thought. “It’s not real. It doesn’t happen.”
Fake job offers are multiplying at an accelerating rate. Employment fraud typically picks up in the summer when graduates and teenagers enter the workforce. But this spring, the BBB has seen a spike in reports and wants job seekers to be on their toes.
“Just because they get an incoming message saying they’re qualified for a great job doesn’t mean the job is real or the person is legit,” Meza said.
Here are some warning signs that a job may be bogus:
You are told that you are “instantly qualified”.
Employer moves conversation from job board to SMS or messaging app
The employer asks you to send money for a background check or to buy equipment
The employer asks you to deposit a check and return part of it
Grammar or spelling errors or odd wording
Job seekers should independently verify the position through searches or a phone call.
Bacon called the real golf company in New York to be told they weren’t hiring and had received other inquiries like his. Bacon’s “employer” posed as a real business owner, even using his name.
Bacon told the fake “Joe” that she was done with her scam. She did not lose any money and says she was careful not to give him a lot of personal information. She had refused to fill out the IRS forms he had requested.
Bacon now wants to warn others to be careful. The whole experience left her unemployed and angry.
“They don’t even target people who have money,” she said. “They target people who live paycheck to paycheck.”
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