Job seekers targeted with fake employment offers

Job seeker gets caught in scary scam

HOUSTON(WDIV) -- Catherine Murphy was dreaming about a better job with better pay. She knew it was time for a change. She posted a resume on CareerBuilder.com and was looking for a new opportunity.

She received an email from a prospective employer looking for a personal assistant. The Canadian company was moving to the U.S. and made an enticing offer of $1,000 a week. She exchanged some emails, pursuing the position.

"All of the sudden I got another email saying congratulations, you have the position, telling me he is located in Canada and he want to bring his business over here," she said.

Thinking she was hired, she quit her previous job. Her new boss asked her to do online research. She did so and prepared reports on various topics. Then, the new boss said he was sending her a cashier's check to help buy furniture for the new office.

"So, I'm waiting for this check in the mail at 8 a.m. in the morning and it comes. It's a cashiers check for $6,770 and like 25 cents," Murphy said.

Murphy was told to put the money in her bank account. Since it appeared to be a cashier's check, she believed it had to be good.

"You know everybody needs money and I was in that state of mind that this was great," Murphy said.

Murphy said she waited seven days for her TCF Bank to clear the check and the money was released. Her new boss told her to use the funds to purchase money orders for almost $5,000 and send them to addresses he provided. She followed those directions.

"All of the sudden, I got contact from my bank saying that your check has been void and there's no money in that account," Murphy said.

She couldn't reach her new boss and the bank said it wanted the $6,700 from Murphy.

"That makes me very angry because I could have been out looking for a job that was actually there," Murphy said.

Here's what people can learn from Murphy's story:

  • Be very suspicious of prospective employers that reach out to you unsolicited with enticing offers. Do not apply, interview, and accept a job all online.
  • If the employer makes claims about being from out of the country (making a face-to-face meeting impossible) that's a huge red flag.
  • Never use your personal bank account to do financial transactions for a new employer.
  • Remember crooks can create fake cashiers checks. They might look so legitimate that a bank accepts the check, but fake checks eventually bounce.

Murphy has a message to the scammers out there.

"You should probably get a real job and stop preying on people that can't even afford to live half the time anyway," Murphy said.

One piece of good news is the bank decided to forgive Murphy's debt.

The Federal Trade Commission warns anyone who is asked to pay anything for the promise of a job, it's likely a scam. Tap or click here to visit the FTC's job scam warning site.

Portions of this article are courtesy of WDIV.