If you’ve ever looked for an Internet job, you’ve probably seen the ones that advertise to accept payments to your bank account. This person is pretending to be an “employer” looking for individuals to accept transfer payments. These kinds of situations are known as “payment-forwarding” or “payment transfer” schemes.
After this so-called “employer” has won your trust, then you’re asked the standard employment type questions along with your bank account numbers. They give a lot of nice sounding reasons for asking for your account number, but none of them are really true.
The so-called job involves forwarding or wiring money from the “employers’” client to you or your account. You are then to send a portion of that money, in money order form or via Western Union (cash) to an over seas account. As part of your pay, you’re further instructed to keep a part of the funds that went into your account. The amount is often times very generous and very appealing, especially if you’ve been out of work for a long period of time.
However, and almost always, the money you are receiving is often times bogus, especially if you’re receiving it in what appears to be some kind of “money order.” So now you’ve received a bad money order or check, and your bank discovers that from your deposit several days later. But by then, it is too late, as you’ve sent real cash to the “employer.”
But you are liable for the entire amount of the bad money order or check. You’re on the hook for the entire amount, plus you’ve lost the money sent to the “employer.” You may have also committed fraud or broken a series of state, nation and/or international laws.
Essentially, you’re in deep do-do for what you have just done.
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There are many variations of payment-forwarding scams and these scams can be very clever and refined.
A few tips:
- Do not give personal bank account, PayPal account, or credit card numbers to an employer.
- Do not agree to have funds or paychecks direct deposited to any of your accounts by a new employer.
- Do not forward, transfer, or “wire” money to an employer.
- Do not transfer money and retain a portion for payment.
Legitimate employers do not usually need your bank account numbers. While direct deposit of a paycheck is a convenience, if that is the only option an employer offers, then you should not accept the job. A legitimate employer will give you the option of direct deposit, but not demand that it is used. You should wait until you have met the employer in person before agreeing to a direct deposit option.
Here are some “red flags” that should definitely tip you off and make you very suspicious if the job is legitimate or not.
- Request for bank account numbers.
- Request for Social Security number (SSN).
- Request to “scan the ID” of a job seeker, for example, a drivers’ license. Scam artists will say they need to scan job seekers’ IDs to “verify identity.” This is not a legitimate request.
- A contact email address that is not a primary domain. For example, an employer calling itself “Omega Inc.” with a Yahoo! email address.
Misspellings and grammatical mistakes in the job ad.
Monster.com lists descriptive words in job postings that are tip-offs to fraud. Their list includes “package-forwarding,” “money transfers,” “wiring funds,” “eBay,” and “PayPal.” “Foreign Agent Agreement” often appears in contracts and emails sent to job seekers.
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Victimized by a payment-forwarding scam? Do the following:
- Close all bank accounts at the bank where the scam took place. It is a good idea to change banks to avoid “social engineering” attempts by the con artists to fool bank workers into giving out new account information.
- Order a credit report from all three credit bureaus every 2 to 3 months. Watch the reports for unusual activity. If you have given your SSN to the fraudster, you should place a place fraud alerts on your three credit reports.
- Contact their local Secret Service field agent. The Secret Service handles complaints of international fraud. Fraud victims should also file a police report with local law enforcement officials as well.
- Rreport the company name, the job posting, and all contact names to the job sites where the scam was posted.
- Permanently close all email addresses that were associated with the job fraud.
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