County Warns Consumers of Work-From-Home Scams
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Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs Alerts Residents of Job Scams Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH – The Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs warns residents to guard themselves against work-from-home scams.
These scams promise employment, but they’re designed to siphon money from jobseekers or pull people into fraudulent schemes.
“Job scams can promise jobs with a variety of titles – personal assistant, bookkeeper, secret shopper – but to spot a scam, it’s more important to look at what the job entails,” said Sheryl Harris, Director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs. “If it involves moving money or packages around or paying to get a job, that’s a danger sign.”
In job scams involving counterfeit checks, new hires are typically directed to:
- Deposit checks and forward money to someone else.
- Use their own bank accounts to deposit and process checks on behalf of an employer.
- Send funds to an employer or anyone else through money wires, gift cards or e-currency services.
Other common job scams entice people to:
- Pay for useless software, leads or materials to make money from home.
- Accept and forward mail or packages that, unbeknownst to the employee, further a fraud.
Consumers often think – wrongly – that because they can spend money from a deposited check, the check is good. But because bank rules require banks to give customers fast access to deposited cash, financial institutions often make funds available to customers before a deposited check clears. It can take a week or more for a bank to discover a counterfeit check and take the funds back. Con artists try to exploit that short window.
“Not only do people who thought they had a job wind up not getting a paycheck, they’re responsible for any payment they made from their account,” Harris said. “The average loss in a fake check scam is $2,000, which is tough to handle anytime, let alone when you don’t have a job.”
Reshipping scams exploit job seekers who believe they’ve landed work as quality-control specialists. The work is supposed to involve accepting packages, checking the contents for accuracy and then forwarding the packages to another, often foreign, location. The package-checking is just a ruse, though. The actual purpose is to help scammers acquire fraudulently purchased goods without alerting store security.
Other job scams offer people work – on the condition that they buy training, materials, equipment or marketing plans first. These materials are likely to be useless, if they’re sent at all.
Job seekers – particularly those who’ve posted resumes or advertised services for sale online – should be wary of job offers that involve:
- Paychecks that have a company name that doesn’t match employer’s name, or from a location different from the employer’s.
- Depositing checks and then sending funds – in any form – to someone else.
- Requirements that applicants pay the company, rather than the other way around.
- Jobs, particularly well-paying jobs, extended after quick or generic text or email interviews.
- Foreign-based employers who claim to be looking for a U.S.-based associate
- Jobs involving receiving and reshipping packages, particularly sought-after goods or electronics.
Cuyahoga County residents are encouraged to report suspicious job offers through the Report a Scam form at consumeraffairs.cuyahogacounty.us or by calling 216-443-SCAM (7226).