GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) — With 10 million people out of work, scammers are working overtime to lure new victims. The Better Business Bureau warns a company that claimed to operate out of Greenville was just a cover for a high-level job scam. We spoke with a victim who uncovered layers of sophisticated deception, only after she gave them access to her bank account.
“Built on trust.” There it is in bold print at the center of an intricate business website.
The “About” section tells the tale of a company called Ellsworth Logistics a quote “leader in long and short haul transporting” with clients from AstraZeneca to 3M.
“I was like, wow this is awesome,” said Sonia Araiza when she was contacted by the company after they found her resume on a job-hunting site.
“Did a little homework on it more, read through their website and I was like OK, I’m going to go for this, this is awesome, finally I got a job,” she said.The single Texas mother of three, who lost her hospitality job during COVID shutdowns was eager to get off unemployment.
“I was like this job sounds too good to be true, but at the same time their paperwork, I was like why would they send me all this paperwork,” she said.
The job description itself was two pages long, with a company logo and seal. True, there were red flags amidst black and white; a high paying Customer Service Manager position that only required a high school diploma.
But, then again, the application had legal jargon she was used to seeing, plus Ellsworth put her through a lengthy phone interview with an 864 area code.
The company claims to have an office in Greenville in a high-rise building on Broad street. But when 7News checked out suite 210, we found out it’s an office space that’s now up for lease.
The Better Business Bureau of the Upstate was onto Ellsworth days before Araiza reached out to them. They had been contacted by other victims the very same week and discovered the business was, in their words, a sham and the website a copycat.
“It looks very, yes, very professional, very legitimate,” said Ginger Watson, the BBB Investigations Director.
“They have gone to an extensive deal of creating the website. It was recently created in January. Parts of the website they copied almost verbatim from another website of a logistics company that is out of the country located in South Africa. “
So, what were they after?
“She said we need your banking information so we can direct deposit your checks, which is normal. My last couple of jobs have asked for direct deposit, routing number, banking number, so I sent it off to her,” said Araiza.
If that makes you cringe, think of how Araiza felt when she read her first assignment; to funnel money through her own bank account into a Bit Coin account.
They sent additional paperwork that explained Ellsworth used Bitcoins because it’s “fast safe and Global.”
“I was like, no no no, you’re not going to be using my bank account number. My intuition told me run run run,” said Araiza.
She immediately transferred all her money and closed her bank account.
7News tried calling Ellsworth Logistics for comment but the number was disconnected. And the bogus company did not respond to any emails.
“I believe it was probably seconds away from my money being taken out of my account because they have my account number, they have my routing number, they have my address to my bank, they knew what bank I was with, so after that I needed to let the public know, I didn’t want this to happen to anybody else,” said Araiza.
Araiza says don’t be fooled by fancy websites and realistic job description documents. Eventually she tried Googling Ellsworth Logistics and no website came up in the search. Now, when she does, it shows the website is not secure. Both, she says, are big red flags that could help you figure out if a company is the real deal.