Criminals don’t like getting caught. So, when they want to send and receive stolen money, they get someone else to do the dirty work.
Some scammers develop online relationships and ask their new sweetheart or friend to accept a deposit and transfer funds for them (a MULE).
Other scammers recruit victims with job ads that seem like they’re for legit jobs, but they’re not.
Law enforcement calls the victims ’money mules.’ If you get involved with one of these schemes, you could lose money and personal information, and you could get into legal trouble.
After more than a year of pandemic-related devastating losses — including job losses – you may be one of the millions looking to get back on your feet with a new job. As always, we want to help keep you on track with ways to avoid job scams.
Scammers post ads online or in print for a variety of jobs, including work-at-home jobs. They sometimes even pretend to represent well-known companies or the government. But these ads are really just tricks to get your money or personal information.
Scammers Post Job Ads
Scammers post ads for imaginary job openings for payment-processing agents, finance support clerks, mystery shoppers, interns, money transfer agents or administrative assistants. They search job sites, online classifieds, and social media to hunt for potential money mules.
For example, if you post your resume on a job site, they might send you an email saying, ‘We saw your resume online and want to hire you.’
THE ADS OFTEN SAY:
- the company is outside the U.S. or your country
- all work is done online
- you’ll get great pay for little work
If You Respond, The Scammer May Interview You Or Send An Online Application
He does that to collect your personal information and make the job offer seem legitimate. At some point, the scammer will ask for your bank account number or tell you to open a new account, and then send you instructions about transferring money.
What to Do if You Paid a Scammer?
No matter how you paid — debit or credit card, bank or wire transfer, gift card, or cash reload card — immediately contact the company you used to send the money, report the fraud, and ask to have the transaction reversed, if possible.
More About Job Scams
Scammers advertise jobs the same way legitimate employers do — online (in ads, on job sites, and on social media), in newspapers, and sometimes on TV and radio. They promise you a job, but what they want is your money and your personal information. Here are some examples of job scams and tips to help you avoid them.
Examples of Job Scams
- How to Avoid a Job Scam
- Tips for Finding a Job
- What to Do If You Paid a Scammer
- Report Job Scams to the FTC
- Examples of Job Scams
- Work-from-home job scams
Many people would like to work from home and generate income. Scammers know this, so they place ads, often online, claiming that they have jobs where you can make thousands of dollars a month working from home with little time and effort. The job could be anything from reshipping products to selling things to people you know. Sometimes the scammers try to get you interested by saying that you can be your own boss, start your own business, or set your own schedule.
But instead of making money, you end up paying for starter kits, “training,” or certifications that are useless. You might also find that your credit card is charged without your permission, or you get caught up in a fake check scam. If someone offers you a job and they claim that you can make a lot of money in a short period of time and with little work, that’s a scam.
Here Are Some Examples Of Work-From-Home Job Scams:
This is actually a form of a MULE called a Parcel Mule
If you’re searching for a job online, you might see positions advertised for quality control managers or virtual personal assistants that have been placed by scammers. But here’s how you can tell it’s a scam: once you’re “hired,” the company says that your “job” is to receive packages at home, discard the original packaging and receipts, repackage the products, and then reship them to an address they give you.
Sometimes the address is overseas. The products are often high-priced goods, like name-brand electronics, bought using stolen credit cards. Reshipping goods is never a real job. That’s simply being part of a scam. Sometimes the company tells you it will send your first paycheck after you work for a month, but the paycheck never arrives. And when you try to contact the company, you’ll find that the phone number is no longer connected and the website is deactivated. This “job” is a scam, and if you gave your personal information thinking it was for payroll, you may now have an identity theft problem.
RESELLING MERCHANDISE SCAMS
In this scam, you may get a call out of the blue from a stranger offering you a job opportunity. Or you may see an ad online or in your local newspaper. In either case, they say that you can make money buying brand-name luxury products for less than retail prices, then selling those products for a profit. But after you pay for the products, the package never arrives or, if it does, it’s full of junk.
NANNY, CAREGIVER, AND VIRTUAL PERSONAL ASSISTANT JOB SCAMS
Scammers post fake job ads for nannies, caregivers, and virtual assistants on job sites. Or they may send emails that look like they’re from someone in your community, or who is part of an organization you know, like your college or university. If you apply, the person who hires you might send you a check. They’ll tell you to keep part of the money for your services and then send the rest to someone else. That is a scam. A legitimate employer will never ask you to do that. What happens next is that the check is fake. It can take weeks for a bank to discover this, but once they do, the bank will want you to repay that full amount. So: if you get an offer that includes depositing a check and then using some of the money for any reason, that’s a scam. Walk away.
MYSTERY SHOPPER SCAMS
Getting paid to shop sounds like a dream job — especially if you’re going to school full-time or looking for a side job. But while some mystery shopping jobs are legitimate, many are scams. Legitimate mystery shopping companies won’t ask you to pay for certifications, directories of jobs, or job guarantees. If someone asks you to pay to get a job, that’s a scam. And if they want you to deposit a check and send money back, stop. That’s a sign of a fake check scam. Read Mystery Shopper Scams to learn more.
JOB PLACEMENT SERVICE SCAMS
While many staffing agencies, temporary agencies, headhunters, and other placement firms are legitimate, others lie about what they will do for you, promote outdated or fake job openings, and charge fees for so-called services. Legitimate placement firms do not typically charge a fee. Instead, the hiring company pays them a fee to find qualified candidates. If a placement firm asks you for a fee, walk away. You could be dealing with a scam.
GOVERNMENT AND POSTAL JOBS SCAMS
You respond to an ad that promises jobs with the federal government or postal service. But then you have to pay a fee to get the job or pay for study materials so you’ll get a high score on the postal exam. Those are scams. Information about job openings with the federal government or U.S. Postal Service is free and available to everyone. And it’s free to apply for a federal or postal job. Find and apply for a job with the federal government at USAJobs.gov, or visit usps.com/employment to find jobs with the U.S. Postal Service.
Steer Clear Of Work-At-Home Scams
As the Coronavirus continues to spread (or during any period,) you may be looking for ways to make money without ever stepping foot outside your door. Maybe you saw an ad online for a business coaching program you can do from your living room. Or maybe you got a call about getting paid to stuff envelopes from your dining room table. While these might look like easy ways to earn quick money and stay safe at home – most of these jobs are scams.
Watch this video to learn how you can be on the lookout for work-at-home scams.