By Praveen Kannan and Anna Strokolyst The Hotspot Shield team believes the internet should be open and secure …
Imagine the excitement of landing that new job, receiving your first paycheck, only to find out that it’s a scam and that your ‘employer’ has actually stolen your life savings. That’s the situation Pricilla Perez found herself in recently.
Perez, from Fort Worth, TX., was going through a tough time. Her husband had been deployed to Kuwait and she had lost her job. She was out of cash and desperate to find work.
In her quest to find a job, she uploaded her resume to popular hiring sites and applied online for various positions. It wasn’t long before Perez received an email from a manager at a non-profit called Feed the Children. It was asking if she was interested in a receptionist job.
Perez was thrilled with the opportunity. It allowed her to work from home and her basic responsibilities would be to ship supplies and send money to various orphanages around the world.
“I was so excited about it,” Perez said. “Being the big heart that I am, I was overjoyed just thinking of all the good things I could do.”
Perez accepted the position and was told she’d receive a welcome package from the company that would include an initial check for $2,500. That money, the manager said, could be paid into her bank account as an upfront reimbursement so she could send supplies to the orphanages.
The correspondence she received seemed legit. The letterhead had the company’s logo and Perez knew of the organization and its reputation as a non-profit. Then there was the check, along with instructions to deposit it via a photo on her mobile banking app. She then had instructions to use that money in her account to send cash to a specific charity.
“It didn’t hit me until the next day,” she said.
That was when the bank called and told her that, despite the payment going through on the mobile app, the check had, in fact, bounced. By this point, the money Perez had sent to the charity was long gone.
“I was so sad, depressed, crying. I couldn’t believe that I allowed myself to be scammed. That was all the money I had to survive. I just feel so stupid,” she said.
Perez went on to explain that her husband was furious. He was deployed abroad and had no way to help. “Thinking about it after the fact, saying it out loud, you know, it definitely doesn’t make sense,” said Perez.
Perez, however, is not alone. Feed the Children said that numerous people have fallen for the scam. The company has reported the incident to the FBI, but as of now, the thieves haven’t been caught. Feed the Children warned that the scammers are sometimes posing as board members.
“They pull on your heart strings and after the fact, you can’t go back,” Perez said. For her, she was desperate for money and was attracted by the known company name and the good deeds she’d be doing. It caused her to lose sight of the red flags she encountered along the way.
Feed the Children said it has offered to donate Perez food to help her through this tough time.
It could happen to you
People are falling for these job scams all the time. They typically pose as a company you’ve heard of and post legit-looking job listings on major sites, like Indeed.com. In many cases, you’ll have at least one job interview over the phone and they’ll send over welcome packages that talk about benefits and pay.
Perez’s incident, like many, included a fraudulent check. Often these are used as a way to ‘reimburse’ you for computer equipment. They tell you to order your laptop from their IT department using your own money.
In some cases, they don’t even send a fake check. Instead, they ask you to submit your bank details for payroll — where they’ll then drain your account.
Typical victims are people, like Perez, who are desperate. They’re going through a tough time and will jump at the first opportunity that arrives.
The telltale signs of a fake job
Be wary of any job offer that doesn’t include an in-person interview, or at the very least a video conference. Do your research on the hiring manager. In most cases, if you search for their name and company you’ll see their profile on sites like LinkedIn. If you can’t find anything, proceed with caution. Also, don’t just assume that because the job listing was on a well-known hiring site that it has to be legit. And be careful with vague job descriptions or
Most importantly, do not ever send your own money, even if they’ve sent you money in advance as a reimbursement. Legit companies will never ask you to pay for its services using your own bank account.
As with all scams, the key is not to allow emotion to cloud your judgment. As Perez said, it’s obvious after the fact. But