Whenever the economy threatens to take a dip, scammers love to bring back the good old employment scams. BBB Scam Tracker has gotten multiple reports of a new job scam twist that involves downloading a messaging app.
How the scam works
You receive a message from someone interested in hiring you. It might come through email, text, or even a social media platform. At first, this “recruiter” seems professional. They claim to have seen your resume on a job search site and want to interview you for a position. But first, you need to download a messaging app, such as Telegram.
Once you download the app, the “recruiter” will begin sending you messages and will ask you to complete a few interview questions. After giving you enthusiastic feedback, they will offer you a position with their company. That is followed by an official-looking contract to fill out and sign. After you sign, the scammer will ask for your name, address, date of birth, and banking information, claiming they need to add you to direct deposit payroll and other company systems. If you provide this sensitive information, you could easily become a victim of identity theft.
Some versions of this scam don’t end there. As a new hire, you are referred to a “training manager” who will help you set up your home office. This person sends you a check to buy a laptop and other supplies. After depositing the check, your contact will say that you were overpaid and need to return a portion of what you deposited. However, the check is a fake, and any funds you “return” to your new employer will be long gone.
One victim in Ontario, Canada, told BBB Scam Tracker how they almost lost $3,000 to this con: “They told me to set up an account for the messaging app Telegram… [My point of contact] claimed to be the training manager. She asked me to take pictures of my “home office” space and sent me checks to deposit to my bank account. Then, she told me to send it to a “vendor” who was in charge of the new supplies I would get for my job… The payment didn’t go through and [the scammer] was demanding me to go to my bank and call them and tell them what to say. She wanted me to go to a teller, withdraw $2,995 in cash and deposit it to the nearest Bitcoin ATM. I then told her I wasn’t interested in the job and blocked her immediately.”
How to avoid employment scams
- Research job offers first. Visit a company’s website and look up their contact information. Verify the company exists and the job posting is real before you interact with a stranger. Do an internet search with the company’s name and the word “scam” to see if anyone has reported a fake job offer. Look on BBB.org to see any unresolved complaints or negative reviews.
- Beware of jobs that involve receiving and returning money. Legitimate companies don’t generally send money to new employees before work is done. They certainly don’t ask you to return funds that you’ve already been paid.
- Be careful with your personal information. Never provide anyone with your personal information until you are sure you can trust them with it. Do all the necessary research before divulging anything personal. Never let someone pressure you into giving up your personal information because it’s a “now or never” offer.
- Watch out for easy hires. If a company claims they want to hire you without meeting you either virtually or in-person, and if they don’t conduct a job interview, you’re probably dealing with a scammer.
For more information
Read the BBB’s job scams study to learn more about employment scams and how to avoid them. You can also find good general information at BBB.org/AvoidScams.
Become a skilled scam spotter by visiting BBB.org/SpotaScam and report any suspicious activity to BBB.org/ScamTracker.