If you’re looking for work, you know you must be careful because there are plenty of scammers out there. These thieves and con artists use fake job offers or help wanted posting as bait to hook new victims.
You should never trust any new job where your boss is going to send you money before you actually do any work to earn it. You should also be aware of a job that sounds too easy for the salary you’re promised. However, when you’re looking for work, the “advance fee” scam is way in the back of your mind.
Holly Flanigan is a stay-at-home mom. With a three-year-old and another daughter in elementary school, she was looking for work to help out with the family. She applied to a popular online job site called Indeed which is used by millions of employers who view resumes.
Flanigan found an opening for patient relations coordinator with a local family physician’s office.
“It was, like, patient relations. I look at the duties, I said I could do all this. I have experience,” she said.
Flanigan received a text in mid-October.
“From Dr. Jessica King. It says, ‘Hello, I have sent you an email in response to the job position that you applied for on Indeed,'” said Flanigan.
Within a day, King sent Flanigan an email saying her resume was being reviewed for a personal assistant position.
“It’s part-time. The hours, 10 hours per week. And $750 a week, which is great,” she said.
She was told benefits would include health insurance and a 401k option. Flanigan was also asked to submit a background check online which included personal information. She sent it off. One day later, she got great news.
“It says congratulations on your new job. And I never met the person. I never talked to her on the phone, it’s only been a text,” she said.
Then came the hook – her job responsibilities, plus an advancement she’ll be getting.
“You will make some arrangements by buying some stuff for the kids in the foster homes at the nearest store then mail them out via FedEx or UPS,” read Flanigan. “Once you receive the funds, you will deduct your first salary of $650.”
This elaborate advance fee scam would have gone like this: It’s likely Flanigan would have been sent a cashier’s check for $2,650, told to deposit it at her bank, keep the $650, and immediately send the remaining amount, $2,000, through Western Union to an address that would be provided.
Like Flanigan, be suspicious of any large first paycheck. She knew what could have happened had she accepted the money and followed the directions.
“I’ll never see it. It’ll, it will be fake. I’ll never see a penny of it. I’ll lose money because I won’t see a penny of it,” she said.
For any legitimate, non-scammy job, remember that money only ever flows in one direction: from employer to employee. If you’re expected to reverse that flow and send your money to someone else, it’s guaranteed to be some type of scam.