Consumer Alert: Beware of scams on job sites
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — It’s a job seeker’s dream. You post your resume and immediately you begin getting text messages from a potential employer.
When that happened to one area resident, she immediately got suspicious.
"I started receiving text messages from someone who claimed to be with a company," said Lora Gunkel.
Gunkel has experience as an executive assistant and is looking for a job that will allow her to work from home.
The text message was from a man who called himself Daniel Wilson. He said he worked for Cormay, a company based in Poland. He claimed to have found her resume on Indeed.
Gunkel knew that it was very unlikely that an employer would contact her by text message, but she decided to play along with the scammer.
“They sent me to an interview process on Skype via text only," she said.
That was a big red flag. The so-called interview was a description of Cormay. The scammer wrote, “Our clinical chemistry portfolio includes a full range of routine and sophisticated immunochemistry tests essential for accurate diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of patients.” I soon discovered the scammer had copied the description straight from the company’s website.
"The company supposedly is trying to expand here in the U.S,” Gunkel said the scammer told her. “And in order to do so in the U.S., they want to hire people to work remotely from home."
The scammer claimed the job paid $35 an hour. Almost immediately, she got an official-looking offer letter followed by a text message with instructions. The scammer said he was going to email her a check.
"I was supposed to deposit [it] into my checking account, less $100 for a sign-on bonus. And once that check cleared I was supposed to go purchase the items that he requested."
The text message said he wanted her to buy “soft-wares”. Of course, his misspelling and attempt to make the word plural was another red flag. Had she wired the money for that so-called software, the bank would have later discovered the check was fake. And Gunkel would have been on the hook for the cash.
The FTC calls this a fake check scam. And it happens far too often. The victim gets a check and is told to deposit it. After it “clears” in 24 hours, the victim is supposed to send money to someone for some alleged job-related task. But by law banks have to give you immediate access to the money. That doesn’t mean the check has actually cleared. It can take days or weeks for banks to realize a check is fake.
Gunkel didn’t fall for it. So then the scammer tried to get her to put $200 on a OneVanilla prepaid card and text him the code which would have given him access to the money. But the scammer had another elaborate explanation.
"It was simply to activate the software, and that the company would reimburse me for all of this," Gunkel recalled being told.
The experts at PCMag.com say that was a huge red flag.
“Never turn over money to a would-be employer, said Chandra Steele, a writer with the website. “If something is a real job they’re not going to ask for that."
She says posting on job sites comes with some risk. Steele has this advice.
"Create a separate email address for your job search so that’s it’s not tied to your other personal information is the best way to go," said Steele.
We reached out to Indeed. This was the company’s response:
“Indeed puts job seekers at the heart of everything we do. We have a dedicated search quality team who goes to extraordinary lengths deploying a variety of techniques to assess the suitability and validity of job listings. Indeed removes tens of millions of job listings each month that do not meet our quality guidelines. In addition, Indeed will not do business with an employer if their job listings do not pass our stringent quality guidelines. We encourage job seekers to report any suspicious job advertisements to us, or if they feel it necessary, to make a report to the police. We encourage all job seekers to review our Guidelines for a Safe Job Search.”
Clearly, it’s up to us, as consumers, to recognize the signs of a job scam. By the way, Gunkel finally told the scammer she was onto him, and he texted some choice words I don’t care to repeat.