Scammers targeting unemployed; collecting money, personal information

A local victim tells her story and explains what red flags to look out for

SAN ANTONIO – People across Texas, including the San Antonio region, are falling victim to dozens of scams targeting job seekers' money and personal information.


Earlier this year, Marielen Lomeli was already working from home and looking for an extra source of income. 


"I got a job offer through my email, stating that they had a job position open for me and I would also be working from home," she said.


The company Fresh Freight, told Lomeli she'd be a "transportation coordinator."


"I was getting these packages and just shipping them away," she said. "They said I would get paid $3,300 a month. Everything seemed so legit. There's a website. They're sending me an application, I was contacted by like five different people. They did an interview."


Lomeli did the job for almost two weeks until she started getting some personal questions. 


"They did ask me for my bank account information, because they claimed they were going to do direct deposit. I didn't give it to them," she said. 


After several red flags, she reported the company to the Better Business Bureau and the police and found out it was all a scam. 


"Once I reported it, I started to hear more stories that, yeah, this happens to quite a few people. A lot of them lost money. Thank God, I didn't lose any money," Lomeli said.


Experts tell KSAT some people have been on the unemployment line so long that they start to feel desperate and ignore red flags. In just the last year, Texans have reported more than 100 job-related scams to the Better Business Bureau. Texans alone have lost more than $20,000 to these scams. 


"A lot of people post scams on Craigslist either just to get your information or resume, which has your personal information on it," said Danielle Gawronski, with Southern Careers Institute in San Antonio. SCI offers job skills classes and hands on training.


Gawronski said several of her students have been scammed in the past few months. 


"This week, we had one student who had done an online interview through Google Circles, and they had asked her a couple questions that seemed interview-like. And then they slipped one in, 'What's your bank account information?' As the interview went on, she realized in her gut, 'Something's not right,'" Gawronski said.


The student reported it to Gawronski, and she helped the student contact the BBB.


Gawronski said Southern Careers Institute teaches students about these scams and the red flags to look out for. 


"No employer's going to give you money without working for them. Don't pay for training in advance," she said.


Gawronski said no one should have to pay a company or offer personal financial information to secure their position. 


When in doubt, Gawronski said to check with the Better Business Bureau. It has a list of legitimate businesses and a scam tracker so anyone can see what types of scams have been reported. 


Link to the scam tracker

About the Author:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.