BBB Warns of Nanny Scam

August 19, 2014

Scammers are targeting nannies and babysitters in a scheme that purports to offer a lucrative childcare job, but can end up costing victims thousands of dollars.

The “nanny scam” begins when the scammer offers the nanny a well-paying job, without meeting in person first. Often, the scammer will pretend to be an international family moving to the area, looking for someone to take care of their children. Once rates and schedules have been established, the scammer will send a fake money order or other form of payment to the nanny or sitter to secure their services. When the check or money order arrives, however, it is for more than expected. The scammer will instruct the nanny to transfer the excess money to a third party (an accomplice to the crime).  

After the nanny writes a check from her own personal account, or wires the excess money to the third party, he/she finds out that the check is fraudulent. The nanny is then responsible to repay the bank the full price of the initial check, often unable to contact the “family” they had scheduled work with and out the money.

There are a few red flags to be aware of and steps you can take to avoid this and similar scams.  BBB serving San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties recommends that you:

Be wary of anyone who hires you without a meeting: Childcare is one of the most important services a parent will pay for, so it doesn’t exactly make sense that they would be willing to hire you without meeting you in person or running a background check. Even a family that is relocating will likely want to conduct a video interview or at the very least, a phone interview. If someone seems to quick to hire you without any of these things, take a step back and assess the legitimacy of the situation.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions: If something seems off, go ahead and ask the parent. For example, in this scam, you might ask the “parent” why he or she can’t just mail two checks. Or if they haven’t contacted you on the phone or over video, ask if you can perhaps set up a time to chat, because it would make you feel more secure.

Guard your information: A legitimate childcare job will never ask you for your banking information or to transfer money over the internet. Additionally, consider that a real employer wouldn’t send you a check up front, and ask you to cash it. A general rule to live by is to never transfer (or accept wire transfers) money to someone you don’t know.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is: If anything about the job or the employer makes you feel suspicious, trust your gut. If the emails are very grammatically flawed or seem not to be personalized at all (scammers often use the same format with no changes and send it to multiple people), you have more than enough reason to be doubtful. If anything seems wrong to you, back out of the job before it costs you.

If you have any questions and want to check the legitimacy of an opportunity, call BBB serving San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties at 858-496-2131. For more scam alerts and consumer information, follow our BBBlog.