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Catching the scam before it's too late; here's how you can avoid falling victim to employment scams

Consumer 10 looks into one of the top scams that are on the rise since the pandemic.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Better Business Bureau sent out a warning to consumers Wednesday after receiving three reports of a fake online job posting.

The posting was reported through the BBB's Scam Tracker after people who applied received an email from the owner of a company, Albert Lambert, thanking them for their application and asking for their resume and cover letter. The email then stated that they made it to the final evaluation of the hiring process.

BBB says the applicants then received a follow-up email that told them that the position had been filled, but the company would be hiring a second marketing specialist in June and they could apply as an executive virtual assistant in the meantime.

Consumers were then told that the owners were too busy for a phone interview and were instead emailed five questions and asked to sign a contract. After getting the job, consumers received another email with details of the equipment that they would be sent.

They were told that they would get a check in the mail for the purchase of a money order to send payment to the distributor and the "company" instructed them to keep the remainder as their weekly pay.

BBB said in a release that the consumers did their research online about the job and found that the real SCADA Integrators and Services LLC was based out of Louisiana, not Ohio and the phone number was not a real phone line, just a Google number.

Judy Dollison, the president of the BBB of Central Ohio, warned consumers after hearing of the scam: "Always do your research. Ensure any company you interact with is legitimate and that all information matches to the actual company before taking any actions.”

This fake posting is not the only one. It's among hundreds that are found on commonly used job sites.

Columbus woman targeted by scammers on Indeed

One Columbus woman told 10TV's Clay Gordon that she was targeted three times.

Pamela Barks, who lives near the Obetz area in Columbus, has been retired since 2012, but her husband is still in the workforce. She has been searching for a job that can provide her with more money and keep her busy.

“You can only do so much when you're retired, I'm tired of cleaning, and I love working in the yard, but I don't do very well standing up sometimes — that's my age,” said Barks. “I just basically need the residual income.”

Barks posted her resume to Indeed, looking for customer service jobs.

“I was also looking for adjunct faculty,” said Barks. “I have a Master's in Public Administration and so I have taught previously at other colleges. I was just looking for something that I thought might interest me.”

Scammers found interest in her profile. 

Barks tells 10TV she went through several interview processes, received checks to deposit and text messages asking for bank account information. She reported the scam job postings to BBB.

“I was furious. I'm like, ‘How can you do that? How can you do that to someone that's so eager to get a job?’” Barks asked. “How can you be so deceitful, you know, and get someone's hopes all up.”

How job sites are handling fake postings

10TV reached out to Indeed to see how fake job listings are handled on its platform. 

Indeed responded with the following statement:

"Indeed puts job seekers at the heart of everything we do. We have a dedicated search quality team who goes to extraordinary lengths deploying a variety of techniques to assess the suitability and validity of job listings. Indeed removes tens of millions of job listings each month that do not meet our quality guidelines. In addition, Indeed will not do business with an employer if their job listings do not pass our stringent quality guidelines. We encourage job seekers to report any suspicious job advertisements to us, or if they feel it necessary, to make a report to the police. We encourage all job seekers to review our Guidelines for a Safe Job Search."

Dollison said that job sites often have procedures in place to catch fake listings.

“...Scammers are really good at taking advantage. So they find a way to get postings on even legitimate job sites.”

Employment scams have increased during the pandemic. 

In central Ohio, employment scams rose 23% from 2021 to 2022. 

Last year, BBB of Central Ohio reported 59 employment scams reported to its scam tracker for a loss of almost $20,000. This year, 16 have been reported so far totaling $9,000 gone.

Work-from-home, package reshipment, mystery shopper positions, caregiver, administrative assistant, or customer service representative are some of the most targeted jobs for scammers, according to the BBB.

Dollison warned consumers to look out for fake fees and someone asking for sensitive personal information very early in the interview process. A common practice is for scammers to send a check with an overpayment, expecting money to be returned. Dollison advised never to do that or pay for equipment or training upfront.

What you can do to avoid falling victim to an employment scam

BBB offered the following tips to protect yourself against scammers:

  • Research the job offer. Look online; if the job comes up in other cities with the exact same post, it’s likely a scam. Visit the company website or call them to see if a job posting exists. Look for any reports of suspicious activity or scams. If you cannot find a legitimate website or contact information, think twice before you message them back.
  • Be leery of on-the-spot job offers, particularly when they are unsolicited. You may be an excellent candidate for the job, but a legitimate company will want to talk to a candidate before hiring and do a proper interview.
  • Watch for overpayment scams. Many employment scams involve sending a check and asking you to deposit the check into your account, and then sending payments elsewhere. Scammers hope this will be done before it is realized the check is fake and will bounce. Legitimate companies pay for your work equipment and only compensate you after you have completed work.
  • Guard your personal information. Be cautious in sharing your personal information as part of a job application; be especially leery if someone is pressuring you for the information. Never give sensitive information to anyone you cannot verify who they say they are.
  • Report such instances to BBB.org/Scamtracker, Federal Trade Commission, and/or your State Attorney General’s office.

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