Consumer Alert: Work From Home Scams

Whether it's working from home, or looking for work, the BBB says employment scams are "exploding".

Posted: Apr 24, 2020 8:26 AM
Updated: Apr 24, 2020 10:03 AM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - With more Americans at home, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers are cashing in on your vulnerability.

Whether it's working from home, or looking for work, The Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana says employment scams are "exploding".

Tim Mansicalo, President and CEO, says Americans are vulnerable to falling for these scams for three key reasons:

  • We are alone
    Because there is no one in our ear to warn us, Maniscalo says it's easier for people to be a victim.
  • We are online
    According to the BBB, most scams are originating through e-mail and social media
  • Fear Factor
    Because of the uncertainty of jobs, the economy, the virus, etc., scammers often capitalize on your worry of safety and security.

Maniscalo says a popular scam, they're seeing, is one that targets people working from home.

Scammers will either send you an email, or call, posing as your current employer. They claim there's a virus in your device and an IT person needs access to your computer to fix it.

Once you hand over control, Mansicalo says scammers will hold your device hostage in exchange for money.

If you receive a notification, like this, Mansicalo suggests directly contacting your employer to verify if the message is actually from them.

Another scam that's becoming popular is targeting the unemployed, who are actively looking for work online.

Mansicalo says scammers will pose as a potential employer by soliciting a lucrative "work from home" job.

"It can be very lucrative, even making $1,000 a week," he said, "Someone is going to offer you this job, and they're going to say you need some special training or you need some special software."

Maniscalo says the "company" will send you a check up front. 

"Let's say it's $2,000," said Maniscalo, "You're going to take that check, deposit it in your checking account and then the software is going to cost you maybe about $1500. They'll say just keep the extra $500 as a starting bonus, or something like that, but you need to purchase the software."

Mansicalo says that leaves you to send a personal check to get your "software" for the job.

"That check that they gave you, the $2,000, that check is no good," he added, "In about ten days, it's going to bounce. It looks real, the bank is going to accept it, but it's going to bounce on you."

"Then, what you've done, is you just sent a phony company $1500," Maniscalo added. 

While the "job offer" appears real, Mansicalo says the BBB has found very few work from home schemes to be legit. 

If you feel you've been a victim of a scam, or want to know about scams being reported in your area, visit ScamTracker.org

If you're unsure of a potential employer's credibility, you can visit the BBB's website to view accredited organizations and businesses.

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