For some people, working from home became a convenience during the pandemic and scammers sure know it.
Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut says enticing “work from home scams” was one of the five riskiest to fall for last year, and the risk remains.
In just one day last year, five people from all over the country reached out to BBB of Connecticut to report a company for ripping them off, a company claiming to be based out of Connecticut. One of those people was Marty Fisher, of West Bloomfield, Michigan.
“I finished after a month and I was looking for my money. No money, no phone number. Everybody went rogue on me,” Fisher said.
Fisher tells NBC Connecticut he had been posting on job boards last year looking for a new gig, when he says he was offered the job. They even had him go through an interview process too.
“They made me an offer. What they want to do is pay me "X" amount of dollars a month. And then "X" amount of dollars for every package that I received, and took it up to either FedEx or UPS -- ship it out,” he said.
One month later, when his check never showed up, he reported the company to the BBB.
After an investigation, BBB of Connecticut found he was an unwitting accomplice in a reshipping scam—which made up 65% of work from home scams reported last year.
BBB says the so-called business “Ship Adventure Post” never posted a real job application.
“They went to other job sites. They found people like Marty who posted that they were looking for work from home jobs,” said Kristen Johnson, BBB Serving Connecticut Director of Communications.
BBB says the bad actors go to great lengths -- even pretending to interview people, like they did with Marty, so the job seems more legit.
“This is how these scams work. Often times they will use stolen credit cards to buy high end items. We’re talking Fendi sneakers, Gucci purses, watches, electronics, Apple computers. They will hire these ‘employees’ or victims to repackage and reship these items to other ‘employees’ or victims and they continue to reship them until they ultimately land at a Russian address,” Johnson said.
BBB says the reshipping makes it very hard to track down who initially purchased the items.
NBC Connecticut went to the Plainville business address Ship Adventure Post gave to Marty. It doesn’t exist.
We spoke to the property owner and tenants too and they say it was never located there. BBB of Connecticut said the same.
“If you were to go to that address in Plainville, you would find out that it’s an old factory that was turned into office space, but none of those offices are owned or rented by Ship Adventure Post,” Johnson said.
And, its phone numbers and emails are offline now too.
“And at the end of the month, they disappear and you don’t get paid,” explained Johnson.
Here’s what BBB of Connecticut recommends to protect yourself from job scams:
- Researching the job offer. Call or go directly to the actual company's website for contact information to verify the job posting.
- Checking on businesses at BBB.org if they claim to be offering jobs.
- Doing an internet search with the name of the employer and the word “scam” to see if there are reports involving job scams.
- Examine the email address of those offering jobs to see if it matches the protocols used by an actual company. Be alert to Gmail business email addresses.
- Creating a separate email address when posting a resume on job boards or applying for jobs. This can help detect “offers” from scam employers you did not contact.
- Setting up a second bank account simply to handle pay for jobs where you have never met the employer in person.
“If it looks too good, smells too good, don't do it. And so, I'm walking into this with eyes wide open again,” said Fisher.
Marty wasted a lot of time and money reshipping potentially stolen items.
The day before he spoke with us, he says he was offered another job: someone wanted to send him a check, have him cash it, and you know how the story goes: scam. He’s being a lot more careful with his job search now and hopes by sharing his story he helps other people.