Like a lot of college students, Miriam Richard is looking to earn some extra cash.
But the 18-year-old from Spring almost found herself down $3,000, thanks to a potential client involved in an online babysitting scheme.
A couple months ago, Richard joined the Care.com website. The website helps families connect with potential nannies and babysitters.
"Usually it's a really nice way to find people in your area who you normally wouldn't find out about," Richard said.
But recently, she was contacted by a woman who claims she is from New York and calls herself "Felicia Greene."
Richard says she only communicated with the woman via text or email.
"Felicia" said she would soon be moving to Houston and she was looking for someone to take care of her son.
"She said he was six years old and he was in a wheelchair," Richard said.
And Richard says that is when things started to look sketchy.
"Felicia" said she would be sending a check for nearly $3,500.
Part of that money would cover Richard's salary, the other part would cover the cost to move the wheelchair of "Felicia's" son to Houston.
"She said I had to go deposit it and then immediately take out $3,000 in cash and that I was to send it to some woman in Alabama who had the wheelchair," Richard said.
When the check arrived in the mail, Richard noticed something strange. The return address was from an auto manufacturing company in Iowa. The check was made out by another manufacturing company based in Colorado.
"She emailed me saying she used to work for them, so they're just going to pay me," Richard explained.
By then, Richard starting putting two and two together and called off the deal.
She took the check to the bank and learned it was not the real deal.
"I can't even imagine being out of that much money," Richard said.
Now she just wants others to be aware.
"Someone might get clever and they might not see through it and then they might be out of a lot of money," Richard said.
Care.com, Inc. sent Local 2 the following statement regarding the incident:
"We are disheartened to hear of the incident this member encountered. Care.com is an online marketplace that enables members to meet and connect with providers of caregiving services. Overpayment scams are often targeted at caregivers and we have implemented a number of safety features to protect our members, including resources on how to avoid scams, tools such as background checks and our own additional security measures to help create a safe environment. Equally as important to the measures we have instituted is for families and caregivers to exercise their own appropriate steps in safety. " -Meredith Robertson, Senior Public Relations Manager.
According to the Better Business Bureau of Houston, Care.com, Inc. is an accredited member of the BBB. It gets about 100 complaints a year, which is not a large amount.
The BBB warns consumers, similar online schemes are common across several different websites.