BOISE, Idaho — With record unemployment numbers due to COVID-19, people are looking for work. Unfortunately, many job seekers are getting conned into breaking the law.
Just recently, Boise Police found thousands of dollars in stolen merchandise in a garage. The homeowner thought they were working a job to reship the items, but it was actually a scam.
Better Business Bureau's Dale Dixon says criminals will post legitimate-looking, "work from home" help wanted or job openings on social media, message boards and even well-known job posting sites. The ads claim the work is easy, pays big, and you can do it from home. Scammers then use stolen credit cards to buy mostly electronics and have the job seeker reship them. Just like money laundering, Dixon says this is stolen merchandise laundering.
So what should job seekers look for to stay safe? Dixon says common sense and gut instinct go a long way. You should be able to pick up the phone and talk to a prospective employer at any time in the process. There should be a readily available phone number for human resources, and there should be a company website. Scammers love to say they only communicate via email or messenger and are very secretive about the work, the supposed business and what the employee will be doing.
The best thing to do is carefully research a business before providing information. Check the company name with Better Business Bureau. BBB maintains extensive information on millions of businesses, including ratings, reviews and how a business responds when something goes wrong.
Dixon also says never pay upfront fees. Often, scammers will ask for fees for a background check or other pre-employment checks.
Make sure to ask plenty of questions. Dixon says any reputable business is going to answer your questions with transparency.
For more tips or to learn what you should do next if you think you've been a victim of this scam, click here. BBB also has information to help business owners and consumer navigate the COVID-19 pandemic here.