The good news is I didn’t completely fall prey to what could have been a pretty nasty and financially devastating scam. I finally shared the “good” news with my son who helped me to recognize some “sketchy” parts of the job offer that I had overlooked in my excitement. The scam itself also sounded vaguely familiar to him and a quick Google search revealed the truth.
Upon receipt of the check to purchase computer software, my contact had instructed me to deposit the check in my bank account using an ATM machine or mobile app where the funds would be available immediately or at least by the next morning. This raised a red flag. Why couldn’t I deposit the check with a bank teller? I was then advised that their “preferred” software vendors only accepted cash payments so I would need to pay them via Western Union or MoneyGram.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, here’s how the scam works. Had I done what I was instructed to do, I would have withdrawn cash from my bank account once the funds were available and sent the money elsewhere. The check that I had received from the scammer and deposited in my account would not have been honored by my bank leaving me holding the bag.
The next morning I was sitting at my home computer when I heard a knock on the front door. It was the USPS with a priority mail envelope addressed to me as promised with the check. I refused delivery but the postman allowed me to take a photo of the sender’s address before returning it. The address was from a residential neighborhood in Rockville, Maryland. The corporate office of the company that I had applied to was in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I immediately deleted the perpetrator from my Gmail Google Hangout account, blocked his number from my phone and reported the scam to ZipRecruiters as well as the company whose information was being fraudulently used.
Here’s what I’ve learned from this experience and I hope it will help others too.
- Personally I don’t believe that Gmail Google Hangout is a legitimate method of conducting a job interview.
- Always pay attention to contact email addresses. They should reflect the name of the actual company followed by a .com…not a gmail, yahoo or hotmail account.
- Beware of “cut and pasted” information including photos stolen from actual company websites that makes the scam appear legitimate.
- Take the time to research the company that you are applying to.
- Most companies have their career opportunities posted on their actual company website and you can apply directly on the site.
- Avoid job boards whenever possible even though there are some good ones out there. The problem is really not with the recruiting site itself but with the predators who find their way through the site’s employer screening process.
- Never ever give your bank account information or social security number to some unknown person online.
- And finally, if it sounds too good to be true, sometimes it is!