(WSPA) – If you or anyone you know is looking for a job right now, beware. Scammers are hoping your search turns you into their next victim.
In this 7NEWS Consumer Exclusive, Scamming Job Applicants, we looked into a recent scam involving bogus checks, a real company, and some job searches gone wrong.
When Janice Pearson in Winston Salem, NC gets her mail, it’s usually just a few small letters. But the other week a large USPS Priority Mail envelope came.
“I’m like well who is sending me something, I’m like I don’t know nobody who is sending me anything, priority mail, OK so then I open it up and it’s a letter and it has a check in it,” Pearson said.
JOB SCAMS LEAD TO CHECK SCAMS
The $2,000 dollar check came with instructions to verify it was received, deposit the check and wait for more job details.
It was actually the second check that had come lately, and she knew both were scams. When she Googled the company name on the check, Clennon Electric, and realized the family-owned business out of Illinois was legitimate, she felt compelled to warn them.
“When that second one came it was just in my heart to do this for this company, to let them know something is going on,” Pearson said.
REAL COMPANIES CAN BE AFFECTED
Christine Humphries, the owner of Clennon Electric, estimates the scammers have stolen about $20,000 dollars so far, after about eight checks were cashed. She is working with her bank to shut down the account but has to wait for payroll to clear.
“I’m very frustrated that I’m working 60 hours a week trying to make a living and someone’s taking advantage of that,” said Humphries.
Pearson was equally upset.
“I was really mad because they are taking somebody’s money and it’s a scam,” she said.
Pearson couldn’t help but wonder, why did they target her?
7NEWS learned what Pearson had in common with many other scam targets who also got checks, is that she had been searching for a job online and was redirected off Indeed.com to what she thought was a company site requesting her information on an application.
“It’s asking for your age, for your income, who lives with you, do you have children, do you take this type of medicine do you have these aches and pains… your address email and phone number,” she said.
HOW TO SPOT A BOGUS JOB LISTING
Indeed.com said the company has “several teams across the globe dedicated to the safety and authenticity of the jobs posted on our platform.” The company has this page dedicated to helping people spot bogus job postings.
The FBI also warns, scammers advertise jobs the same way real employers do, on job sites, college employment sites and social media.
When searching for a job, here’s how you can protect yourself:
- don’t put your address on your resume
- when a job site redirects you, go instead right to the company site independently.
- beware of online only interviews
Phil Collins in Florida was part of the same “Clennon Electric” check scam. He said he got a job offer by email to be a part-time driver, responded and got a check for $4,900 from Clennon Electric. So, when did he sense it was a scam?
“Oh, I sensed it when I got the email,” he told 7NEWS. But he said he wrote back just to play with the scammers, and confessed, “my son reprimanded me.” Unfortunately, “playing” with the scammers can lead to more attempts of scammers contacting you, since they know have a way to reach you.
That game may look slightly different for each target, a bogus Whole Foods job offer as a “Survey Analyst,” a video editor with a check for $18,000 supposedly to pay for equipment.
The instructions told you to keep a few hundred for your salary and send the rest to a company contractor of sorts, which in effect launders the money. Collins and Pearson were among 15 people who contacted Clennon to warn the company.
“Very thankful there are good honest people left in the world,” said Humphries, who was able to alert her bank, so fraud protection insurance is footing the bill.
Pearson is still looking for work but wants to come by it honestly.
“If I didn’t earn it, it’s not mine.”