Attorney General: Work-from-home, mystery shopper top job scams

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine Friday warned about five of the most common scams targeting people looking for jobs or extra income.

In 2015, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office received more than 150 complaints involving work-at-home or business opportunities, many of which involved potential scams.

Some of the most commonly reported scams include:

  1. Work-from-home office job. A company hires the applicant to work from home shipping packages, processing payments, completing surveys, or entering data, but the applicant is asked to provide an upfront payment to set up a home office or to purchase software, computers, or other supplies. The job is phony and the applicant will lose any money sent.
  2. Mystery shopper. An applicant is selected for a “secret shopper” job. The first assignment is to deposit a check and then wire-transfer a portion of the funds to someone else using the wire-transfer service at a local retail store. In reality, the check the applicant has received is no good, and any money the person sends will be lost.
  3. Running a web-based business. In exchange for an upfront fee from the applicant, a company promises to set up a web-based business that will generate income through advertising revenue or products sold online by other businesses. The claims are false and no money will be generated for the applicant.
  4. Nanny/caregiver scam. Caregivers go online looking for work opportunities posted on caregiver or classified websites. They find a job and communicate via email or text message with the “client,” who sends a check and asks the caregiver to deposit it, and then send some of the money to a landlord or to purchase supplies related to the position. Despite the “client’s” claims, it’s all a scam.
  5. ‘Wrap your car in an advertisement.’ A company claims an applicant can make hundreds of dollars per week by wrapping his or her vehicle in an advertisement for an energy drink or other product. The applicant is told to provide payment before the ad can be placed on the vehicle. In truth it’s a scam.

“Regardless of the pitch, if you’re asked to send money as part of a job you found online, be very careful,” Attorney General DeWine said. “Con artists are good at what they do, and some pretend to work for legitimate companies in order to make their scams seem real. Before providing any money or personal information, conduct your own independent research. If you suspect a scam, contact my office.”

Signs of a job scam include:

  • Interviews conducted only online or via instant messenger.
  • Employers who send a check before the work has started.
  • Upfront payments required from the applicant for a home office or supplies.
  • Recruiters who claim to work for a large company but use a third-party email account, instead of a company email address.
  • Employers who ask an applicant to send money via wire transfer or prepaid card.
  • Offers that seem too good to be true.

Consumers can report potential scams to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.

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