Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

  

May 11, 2012

Consumer Advisory: Summer job seekers warned to be watchful for scams

HARRISBURG - Attorney General Linda Kelly today warned high school and college students, along with adults searching for temporary, to be on the lookout for scammers who target people looking for seasonal employment.

"If a summer job seems too good to be true, it usually is," Kelly said. "Ads or online posting offer easy money for little to no work should always raise a 'red flag' for job seekers."

Kelly said that some of these employment scams advertise the ability to work from home rather than an office, typically using Internet postings or Craigslist ads to offer high pay for part-time employment, including work as personal assistants, 'mystery shoppers,' check processors or models. Other questionable offers may be circulated using handmade signs posted throughout communities.

"Falling for one of these bogus offers can trigger a variety of problems - leaving victims unemployed, facing financial losses and possibly becoming the target of identity thieves," Kelly said.

Kelly noted that the exact details of job scams can change, but most share common themes:

  • "Easy money" for a small amount of work.
  • The need to respond quickly.
  • Difficulty meeting prospective employers face-to-face.
  • Most importantly, at some point during these scams, victims may be asked to wire-transfer money to another person.

Kelly urged consumers to avoid offers that ask for upfront application fees, the need to cash checks or wire-transfer funds.

"As with many other scams, these offers revolve around elaborate stories that are designed to convince consumers to deposit counterfeit checks and then wire-transfer money to scam artists, who are typically located outside the United States," Kelly explained. "Victims discover they have been scammed when their banks notify them that the checks they deposited are worthless, which is often days or weeks after they have electronically transferred money to the con artists."

Kelly noted that other job-related scams are crafted to gather detailed personal information about the "applicants," who may be targeted later for identity theft.

"In these types of scams, often involving ads for international jobs, consumers may be asked to submit a copy of their credit report to assist the person reviewing their application," Kelly said. "It is important for consumers to understand that while legitimate employers do conduct background checks and may review your credit information as part of the application process, they will not ask the applicant to personally retrieve and send their own credit report."

Kelly said other job related scams can include offers for modeling jobs or other similar work.

"In the case of a modeling scam, victims might get a check as advance payment for their 'photo session,' but are asked to transfer some of that money to a photographer, a studio or a booking agent in order to secure the job," Kelly said. "Con artists are hoping that the attraction of work as a model, along with a paid trip to New York or another exciting location, will cause consumers to quickly send money before verifying that the offer is legitimate."

Additional warning signs of scam ads include:

  • Poor grammar or misspellings in ads or email messages.
  • The use of "generic" email addresses, like Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail, rather than a specific business email address.
  • A lack of details about the actual job.
  • Stories that change frequently.

Consumers with questions or concerns about possible scams, or other consumer problems, can contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-441-2555.