SAN ANTONIO – While job hunters are scouring online listings and sending out resumes, scammers are working overtime as Texas reports employment scams tripled from March through June, according to the Better Business Bureau.
“We’re going to see this spike continue for the next few months,” said Jason Meza with the BBB. “It’s an easy trap to fall into.”
Courtney Bacon almost fell for a scam.
“I have been applying on Indeed for work-from-home jobs,” she said.
The expectant mother of three said she was looking for an extra paycheck to help make ends meet. When she got a text message telling her she qualified for a remote, flexible job as a personal assistant, it seemed perfect -- almost too good to be true.
“There was no interview, nothing,” Bacon said. She thought that was odd and continued asking questions.
The employer, who claimed to own a golf course business in New York, offered the job which involved running errands, making payments and sending mail. He was offering good pay and hope.
“The money was there, good money,” Bacon said. “It wasn’t outrageous, but it kind of was at the same time.”
For working no more than 10 hours a week, the position would pay $750, and she could start immediately.
“I guess I was really desperate for some kind of income because we have all of these kids and mouths to feed,” Bacon said.
She was skeptical. Then “Joe” instructed her to go to Staples to buy check paper. He would email a cashier’s check that she could print and deposit in the bank.
“Nope,” Bacon said she thought. “This is not real. This is not happening.”
Fake job offers are happening at an accelerating pace. Employment fraud typically picks up in summer as graduates and teens hit the job market. But this spring, the BBB saw a spike in reports and wants job seekers to be on guard.
“Just because they receive an inbound message saying they are qualified for a great job doesn’t mean the job is real or the person is legit,” Meza said.
The following are some warning signs that a job may be phony:
- You’re told you “instantly qualify.”
- The employer moves the conversation off a jobs platform to text or a messaging app
- The employer asks you to send money for a background check or to buy materials
- The employer asks you to deposit a check and send back a portion of it
- Grammar or spelling errors or odd wording
Job seekers should independently verify the position through research or a phone call.
Bacon called the real golf business in New York only to be told they were not hiring and had received other inquiries like hers. Bacon’s “employer” was impersonating an actual business owner, even using his name.
Bacon told the fake “Joe” she was done with his scam. She did not lose any money and said she was careful not to have given him much personal information. She had declined to fill out the IRS forms he’d requested.
Bacon now wants to warn others to be cautious. The whole experience left her unemployed and angry.
“They are not even targeting people that have money,” she said. “They are targeting people who are living paycheck to paycheck.”