‘Not-So’ Secret Truth about Job Scams

Watch Out for Lookalike Names
July 09, 2014

ATMBetter Business Bureau is warning consumers of a secret shopper job scam luring job seekers with easy work, high pay, and a check.

All too often, unscrupulous job scam promoters victimize people looking for work. One such offer uses the name "The Home Depot Survey," and although it is not in any way connected with “The Home Depot,” it uses the deceptive website URL www.homedepot/opinion.com and the address of a Home Depot store location in Auburn, Calif.  BBB has confirmed that The Home Depot has no affiliation with the employment offer.

According to respondents and a review of employment materials, job seekers are sent a cashier’s check for an average of $1500, which includes “advance pay” of $300.  The scammers instruct applicants to activate their employment and evaluate the security and efficiency of various retailers by making purchases.  

These scams are pervasive.  According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Business and Job Opportunities in 2013 ranked 14th and Foreign Money Offers and Counterfeit Check Scams ranked 17th in terms of the number of cases reported by FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network.  The FTC has issued a consumer advisory about mystery shopping at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0053-mystery-shopper-scams.

Job scams often attempt to legitimize themselves by using national brands and by involving the applicant in various activities.  Eventually, the scammers require the applicants to wire the balance of any unused funds to another country.  The victims subsequently realize the cashier’s check they deposited is worthless, leaving them with a “secret” surprise - an overdrawn account.  

There is no protection for consumers under these circumstances.  If you deposit a bad check, you are responsible for it, related bank fees and any funds paid from your account.

Before giving out your private information, depositing a check, or wiring money related to a job offer, consider the following:

Verify the offer - Do your research at BBB.org, and prospective employers’ websites to verify the legitimacy of an offer.

Don’t Give Out Private Information - Be aware that any personal information you provide may be used for purposes for which you did not intend.  Only give personal information when you have determined an offer is legitimate.   Online, look for “https” and a lock symbol in the URL window of your browser as signs that the web page through which you are submitting personal information is secure. 

Beware of False Branding - Verify the relationship of any brand used in connection with a job offer and the employer.

Don’t Pay for a Job - Employees receive pay for employment, not the other way around.  Do not wire money to any third party you do not know.  The United States Postal Service issues a similar warning: https://about.usps.com/publications/pub300a/pub300a_tech_023.htm.

Fraud is Fraud. Don’t Get Caught Up - If you are asked to wire money to a third party, open an account and deposit money, or solicit people to engage in the same activity.  You could be perpetuating a fraud and may be held accountable.

Report Suspicious Offers If you are victimized or receive a suspect offer, contact your Better Business Bureau at 203-269-2700, or online at bbb.org.

Founded in 1928, BBB Serving Connecticut is an unbiased, non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior, and is one of 112 local, independent BBBs across North America.

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust.  In 2013, people turned to BBB more than 132 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org.