The Investigators: Employment scams rampant in Mid-South; woman is threatened after accepting fake job

The Investigators: Mother shares work from home warning

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Mid-Southerners looking for safe work options during the pandemic are becoming victims of employment scams.

The Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South says they’re hearing from job seekers who had no idea they were being used for criminal operations until it was too late.

One Memphis mom found, what she thought, was the perfect “work-from-home” gig for her teenage daughter on Indeed.com

“Since COVID-19, I didn’t want her out anywhere working so this was the best opportunity,” she said. “I thought it was a blessing.”

It turned out to be more like a curse.

The mom didn’t want to be identified because the person on the other end of the job posting she answered is now threatening her family.

At first, everything seemed legitimate.

After she applied, she had a 30-minute phone interview and she got the job.

Her new employer said she would soon receive merchandise in the mail, and her duty was to ship that merchandise to someone else.

The first item she got was a 10-karat gold bar, which she thought was fake.

She re-packaged it, just as instructed, and shipped it out.

“They said ‘so far you doing good’ and I’m like OK cool! So I’m telling my daughter, this is how you do it,” she said.

Then her employer asked for her bank account information.

When she refused, he grew angry.

“When he got upset, I said OK, let me call the Better Business Bureau and check them out and nothing checked out,” she told The Investigators.

“This is part of organized crime,” said Daniel Irwin, who does research and investigations for the BBB.

He enters each verified report into the BBB’s Scam Tracker tool, which allows the public to search by scam or location.

“A lot of what we see are employment-related scams, which goes back to COVID-19. A lot of people without work, a lot of people are desperate,” he said.

Irwin says re-shipping scams are one of the most common employment scams.

Scammers will purchase items with stolen credit cards then muddy the trail between the receiver of those items.

“Or it’s money laundering for organized crime as well,” said Irwin. “So they’re essentially putting a middle man in charge of sending it so it doesn’t track back to them.”

The Memphis mom reached out to Indeed.com to let them know about the scammer’s post.

The Investigators also reached out to the website.

A spokesperson wrote in an email that Indeed.com “employs a variety of techniques to review job advertisements to determine their suitability,” and “encourages job seekers to report any suspect job advertisements to us, or if they feel it necessary, to make a report to the police.”

Among them, the website warns people not to send or accept money from a prospective employer; insist on an in-person or video interview; be cautious about salaries, perks and flexibility that seem too good to be true and watch closely for email addresses with misspelled or spoofed company names.

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