(InvestigateTV) - Scammers are taking advantage of folks looking for work because of the coronavirus pandemic. They are posting fake jobs, not only wasting your valuable time, but trying to steal your money.
Sandrine Morris works as a nursing assistant in Virginia, but for the last year, she's been patiently looking for a job in the field she loves.
“I have a bachelor’s degree in health care administration, and I thought, 'Okay, maybe I should just try again,’” Morris said.
She got on Indeed.com and started applying. Two weeks letter, she got a response.
“I recently got an e-mail saying, ‘You applied to us, we got your resume, would you be available for an interview?’” Morris said.
She got a message claiming to be from Alvogen Pharmaceuticals, a real company based in New Jersey. She showed InvestigateTV the email. It said the company had her resume and she was “shortlisted” for the next step – an interview.
That interview would be conducted online. They asked her to download Google Hangouts. She showed InvestigateTV the entire chat exchange. In it, the people alleging to be from Alvogen tell her all about the company and the job.
“It did feel like it was normal because I’ve been to so many job interviews. He asked me five questions, and those five questions were similar to a typical job interview question,” Morris said.
She got a letter after the interview telling her she got the job. She would be working from home, for now.
“He told me that that they’re in New Jersey…and they’re about to open a new company up in Richmond. And once they open, that’s where I’ll be working at, but from now on I’ll be working from home,” Morris said.
Whoever was on the other end of the exchange sent Morris a check for $3,450 to buy a computer and software. They wanted her to deposit it immediately. There was even a letter with detailed instructions. It stated, “It's mandatory that you send a copy of the deposit receipt.”
That’s when the red flags started going up.
Morris said she went to her bank, Navy Federal Credit Union, to find out if the check was real.
“I was like here, I just want to make sure. Even though he did text me and tell me to not go inside the bank, but go to the ATM, and I thought 'Something fishy is going on,’” Morris said.
She said the bank tellers confirmed that the check was a fake. This was a scam.
“I think COVID-19 has really put it out front because people have lost their jobs or been furloughed or been laid off without pay, and they need an income so they go to the internet,” said Barry Moore with the Better Business Bureau.
Moore said sometimes these scammers want your bank information or they try to trick you into giving them the routing number. Other times they send a check and eventually tell you they sent too much and need you to pay money back.
“And you send that money back. And you find out in three days the check was invalid. But the bank is going to hold you accountable for the whole sum, and you sent back the price of profit for a criminal,” Moore said.
A quick search of the BBB’s Scam Tracker showed reports of 705 employment scams nationwide in the last three months.
InvestigateTV found complaint after complaint of scams similar to what happened to Morris. In one online description, there was a complaint of a person pretending to be from a known publishing company, asking to do the job interview on Google Hangout.
“I just want everybody to know that, just be more careful. And it’s a perfect time to look for a job, and the scammers and hackers - they’re out there,” Morris said.
Indeed.com told InvestigateTV it “encourages job seekers to report any suspect job advertisements” and “if they feel it necessary, to make a report to the police.”
On its Indeed.com profile, Alvogen Pharmaceuticals does not have any jobs listed. InvestigateTV reached out to let the company know about the imposter job post. It did not respond by the time of publication.
Tips for spotting scam job listings:
- If anyone asks you to pay money for an interview it might be a scam.
- If they want to send you a check to buy things for your new job before you’ve even started- it’s likely a scam.
- You need to research the company. Look up the official website to see if it’s advertising jobs. Call the company if you need to.
- Be very cautious of any interview that asks you share your banking information.
Full statement from Indeed.com
Indeed's mission is to help people get jobs, and the quality of the job advertisements posted by third parties on our site is central to our mission. Indeed has a team dedicated to the Search Quality effort, and employs a variety of techniques to review job advertisements to determine their suitability. Indeed reserves the right to remove any job postings that do not meet our standards and we encourage job seekers to report any suspect job advertisements to us, or if they feel it necessary, to make a report to the police. Jobseekers should never agree to send payment to a potential employer, and charging fees is a violation of Indeed’s rules for companies posting on our site. We encourage job seekers to review our Guidelines for Safe Job Search.
Full statement from Navy Federal Credit Union
Our members’ privacy and security are our top priorities. While we can’t discuss individual member accounts, we do continue to partner with members to stop to fraudulent activity when it’s identified. Our dedicated security staff works around the clock to monitor for fraud and provide members with resources to avoid scams. More information on how to identify scams and report fraudulent activity can be found at //navyfederal.org/services/security.