TAMPA BAY, Fla. — People looking for work should be on the look-out for job scams. The FBI said the numbers of scams targeting job seekers skyrocketed during the pandemic. Taking Action Reporter Jackie Callaway found the bad guys are after more than money.
Single mother and part-time school teacher Addy Bacon needed a second job to cover the rent. She used legitimate search engines like Monster and Indeed to apply for openings.
A company that advertised on a well-known employment website offered Bacon a job examining and reshipping products sent to her home. Unlike other job scams they never asked her for a dime. Bacon said everything was done on a portal where she uploaded a W-2 form with her Social Security number and her driver’s license.
Bacon worked nights and weekends for a month and then asked about her check.The company responded in an email stating: "Please do not forget to ship the packages back today. The accounting department said they will release your pay.”
But Bacon said when she asked again about her missing $2,200 check she was suddenly locked out of the portal.
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), 16,012 people reported being victims of employment scams in 2020, with losses totaling more than $59 million.
Bryan Oglesby with the Better Business Bureau said the agency has also seen a surge of people reporting fake job offers. In many cases, the bad actors are spoofing legitimate companies.
“A lot of times they are losing their ID to these scammers,” Oglesby said.
The average victim loses about $3,000. In Bacon’s case, the BBB suspects she was used to traffic stolen goods without her even realizing that’s what she was doing.
“She could have been a money mule where she's receiving goods from scammers who have stolen credit cards and are purchasing these products,” Oglesby told ABC Action News.
Bacon said the money would have helped cover her rent and car payment. Now she’s sharing her story to warn other job seekers.
“If it can happen to me as an educated schoolteacher it can happen to anyone,” Bacon said.
Here are some of the red flags that indicate you aren’t dealing with a legitimate employer:
- The company doesn’t conduct an in-person or secure online video call to conduct the interview.
- The email domain name doesn’t match the company name and instead comes from a Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail account, for example.
- The business asks for personal identifying information such as a driver’s license number and Social Security number, shortly after making contact.
- A company asks for up-front money before you get the job or as an application fee.