WEST MICHIGAN — Employment scams are on the rise in West Michigan thanks to the job market created by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study from the Better Business Bureau on Thursday.
With federal unemployment benefits now over for Michiganders, the issue could continue to get worse.
BBB described a case where a Grand Rapids woman received a message from a potential employer saying they saw her resume on Indeed.
She went through the interview process through WhatsApp and was offered the job via email. The potential employer sent her a $2,100 check to cash for any company purchase needs. Before the woman cashed the check, she went on BBB’s Scam Tracker site and saw that others had fallen victim to the same scam.
In another case, a woman just outside of Lansing applied for a job on Indeed and was sent a check from the company to buy supplies for the new job.
Once the bank flagged the cashed check as fraud, she knew she had been scammed.
“Many of the job offerings pay a lot of money for easy, at-home work,” said Phil Catlett, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan. “But once the job is complete, people find out there is no pay and the whole thing was a scam, or they were helping scammers victimize others all along.”
BBB Serving Western Michigan warned job seekers to verify employment offers to avoid illegal jobs, identify theft and fake checks to which millions are exposed every year.
The agency’s study details the many forms of employment fraud and the scams that often come out of it.
Read the full study here.
Last year’s report found job scams to be the riskiest of all the scams the BBB tracked in 2018 and 2019, with the problem getting worse in 2020.
Job scams most commonly victimized people between 25-34 years old, with financial losses averaging $1,000 per victim.
BBB offered the following tips for avoiding these scams:
- Verify the job posting by calling or going directly to the actual company’s website.
- Check out the business at BBB.org.
- Examine the email address of those offering jobs to see if it matches one from the actual company and be alert to Gmail business email addresses.
- Be wary of mystery shopping or secret shopper positions and vague job descriptions.
- Work-from-home jobs that involve receiving and reshipping packages or money are likely scams.
- Be cautious in providing personal sensitive information such as your full address in your resume or to unverified recruiters and online applications.
- Do not respond to calls, text messages or emails from unknown numbers or suspicious addresses.
- Do not send money from a check cashed into your bank account until that check has cleared.