(WTOC-TV) - Trying to find a job in this market can be tough. But one man's job hunt almost landed him in jail.
Now, he is warning others about online job postings that seem too good to be true.
It did not take long for Martin Tillman to find something that looked very promising on Craigslist.
It was a house sitting job for a family that was supposedly relocating back to the United States. But something did not sit right with this 19-year-old college student.
'Within the range of pricing with money, and with the job I had to do, it seemed a little too good to be true," said Tillman.
That was his first red flag, but he didn't want to give up just yet.
"I did go ahead and start asking more questions, seeing what I could do, how far this was going to go, was it a scam? Or was it a job that could be provided for me?" he explained.
Tillman got the house sitting job after corresponding with the husband, "Kelvin", only through email.
He was told to cash a check, worth more than $2,500, and use it to buy supplies.
That is when Tillman became very suspicious.
"He sent me a check for $2,950, but when the check got here, it was only $2,550," said Tillman. "And the check had a different name, and the mailing address had a different name on it!"
Tillman took the check and the emails to investigators. They told him that the bank was real, the checking account was real, but it had been closed for awhile.
Meaning, if Tillman had cashed the check and was caught, investigators say he could have faced charges of fraud, embezzlement, and more.
"I actually pray every night that didn't happen. I had someone watching over me!" he said.
The FBI is now handling Tillman's case.
Tune into Action News 5 at 6 p.m. to hear from Tillman about this scam and how lucky he feels that he was able to spot it before it did him harm.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO MINIMIZE YOUR RISK TO SCAMMERS:
- Work with vendors who are local and who you can deal with in person. This gives law enforcement the opportunity to find the suspect, should a fraud occur. It also lowers the risk of fraud in general.
- If the ad involves money for little or no work, it's a scam. There's no such thing as a free lunch.
- Never wire money to a seller. There is no accountability in doing so, and no way to ensure that the seller fulfills his part of the bargain.
- Do not provide personal identification information to anyone, for any reason. Remember that CraigsList is buyer beware. If there's a problem, there's no insurance to cover the fraud, and you're just out your money.
- Don't act as a shipper for goods on behalf of others. It's a common scam. Identification thieves to use stolen I. D. to purchase merchandise, send it to a middleman, who responded to an ad offering money to repackage and re mail the items, and then ship them overseas. This makes the middleman a party to identity theft.
- Don't buy or rent items you haven't seen for yourself. Once the money changes hands, the property might not be delivered, or the place for rent might not even exist.
- Trust your gut: if it sounds too good to be true, the price seems too low, or the other party seems shady, avoid the deal. You can also direct any complaints to Craigslist feedback