Job Scams Result in Monetary Losses and Criminal Charges

By Robert L. Cain, Copyright 2024, Cain publications, Inc.

Law-abiding citizens don’t expect the police to come knocking on their doors with search warrants and raid their houses. But what if, unbeknownst to them, they aren’t law-abiding? That’s what happened to Adrian Hart of Toledo, Ohio.

Adrian had applied for a “work from home” job and got hired by a company called Ovebone to reship packages. “I had to go to Best Buy and pick up like a drone,” she said, “take pictures of it, take pictures of the back of it, the shipping labels, and I shipped the product out,” reported Toledo TV News station WTVG.  Then one day, the police came knocking and told her she was under arrest for receiving stolen goods. She got out of jail the same day, but she’s still facing felony charges.

Applying for and accepting what seems like a legitimate job shouldn’t put you in jail, and usually it doesn’t. Reshipping jobs, though, are one of the “job scams” that can land an unaware job-seeker in legal trouble. With other work-from-home jobs such as multi-level marketing jobs, supposed government jobs, envelope stuffing, data entry, and mystery shopper jobs just they steal money from the job seekers. Too often these “jobs” end up costing the job seeker thousands of dollars because they involve worthless checks which the job-seeker is told to cash and send the “overpayment” back to the “employer” or buy equipment to do the job he or she was hired for from a company owned by the supposed employer. The check from the employer, of course, is no good and the job seeker is out money sent back to the employer and/or used to buy the equipment, such as a “required” new computer system, for the job.

Despicable as those fraudsters are who take advantage of people looking for work and steal their money, they can’t hold a candle in sleaziness to the fraudsters who expect new employees to engage in, unbeknownst to them, illegal activities.

Here’s how the reshipping scam works. Criminals buy high-value products with stolen credit cards and recruit unsuspecting job seekers they call ‘”mules” to receive and forward those stolen items to other criminals who then sell them on the black market for cash. Those criminals, are usually in countries where they are untouchable by the US legal system, but the new job seekers are in the US and can be prosecuted for accepting stolen goods, conspiracy, theft, or more charges a creative district attorney can dream up.

The sophisticated system has pre-printed and prepaid shipping labels to take to the post office. The mule packs up the high-priced computer, iPad, or other electronic device and sends it off using the provided shipping label.  The crook receiving the goods then resells them. The mule, or new employee, promised a paycheck at the end of the month knows he or she has been scammed when no check shows up and the company that hired him or her is nowhere to be found. Thus, they are out the time they spent packing and sending the stolen goods and may face arrest for illegal activity.

The same system applies to the reselling scam. An unsuspecting job seeker gets a call from a stranger offering a job opportunity, or he or she may see an ad online or in the newspaper saying they can make money buying name-brand luxury products for less than retail and reselling them at a profit. Incredulously, they fall for it, order and pay for the products. But the order doesn’t arrive, or if even it does, it’s junk and not the high-end product the ad promised. Likely whatever does arrive was purchased with a stolen credit card and the reselling victim receives stolen goods.

Some people do catch on before the scam affects them. Nineteen-year-old Cameron Boyd, for example, wanted that customer service job he found online that paid $25 an hour. He interviewed on Google Hangouts during which they asked him for his mailing address so they could send him a check to pay for the work materials the job required. He was to purchase the materials through the employer’s “preferred supplier.” The $2,250 check came a few days later by FedEx from a landscaping company he had never heard of. The hiring manager told him to deposit the check immediately at a bank ATM and under no circumstances by using a mobile deposit or a bank teller. His suspicion aroused, Boyd took the check to the bank anyway. The teller took one look at it, and told him the check was bogus, the whole thing a scam. Fortunately, Cameron Boyd’s good sense and suspicion saved him money and grief.

Job scams of all kinds continue to grow and victimize people looking for work either full-time or for gig work reports the Better Business Bureau. Sometimes they include identity theft because the purported employer gets the applicants to provide their Social Security Numbers and bank account information for the “direct deposit” of their paychecks. That’s all the crooks need to steal someone’s identity.

People do fall for it. More than 45 percent of the victims are in the 18 to 34 year old range, Gen Z’s and Millennials, reports the Better Business Bureau. An additional nearly 21 percent are in the 35 to 44 year old range, but we have to suspect that mostly involves the under 40 year olds. Why those age ranges?

Those are the people who may have little or no critical thinking ability and have little suspicion about what they find online. As people get older and life bites them along with people they know, they become more suspicious and respond with “I don’t think so” to shady offers.

Our own experience tells us that you don’t have to pay money to a company to get a job. The company offering a job should have a website, verifiable address, and phone. When you call the verified phone number on the company’s website, they should be able to confirm the job offer is real. Any email address should be a company email address and not a Gmail or Yahoo address. Personal information should never be provided to anyone who cannot be verified or for online applications. Most important, never pay a stranger for a job.

Poor Adrian Hart goes to court February 13th and hopes the prosecutor will see reason and understand that she was the victim and had no intention of breaking any laws. Best of luck, Adrian.

Written for Zip Reports where they do employment and rental screening. Contact Robert L. Cain at bob@cainpublications.com

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