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Employment schemes looking to make victims out of thousands of Texans seeking work

The Better Business Bureau says people are taking advantage of unemployed San Antonians amid the pandemic.

SAN ANTONIO — Job seekers are getting tricked out of jobs. 

With more than 2 million Texans out of work during the coronavirus crisis, job schemes are on the rise. The Better Business Bureau is reporting a major spike in San Antonio, and it's targeted the Alamo City's Caitlin Carey, who has been without a job.

"It is very hurtful," she said. "You go and tell people you got a new job and you post it on LinkedIn and everybody is congratulating you."

Her celebration was short-lived. Carey has been unemployed during this pandemic and applying for work online. After trying various websites, she finally landed a new job—or so she thought.

"They sent me a job offer letter," she said. "They said, 'Send it back signed, and someone would be training you for two weeks.' They had it down to a science."

BBB Regional Director Jason Meza said employment schemes continue to be a top-reported scheme. He said 2020 cases will likely surpass what they saw last year.

"Job scams are now using companies or scripts related to coronavirus to achieve immediate buy-in," he said. "People are desperate to start working – whether it is remote, work-from-home – and scammers know this. They take advantage and they're cashing in."

Meza said San Antonio has seen reports of job-related schemes rise by 15% to 20%.  

"These are happening with legitimate career sites," he said. "People go to Indeed, CareerBuilder or Monster and look for an opportunity. But they come across a fake posting, which looks incredibly real."

Carey said the particular posting she followed met that description; she even went through interviews. In her case, she was sent a company check totaling $1,750 and was instructed to withdraw $1,250 immediately. 

Luckily, the woman’s bank flagged the check.

"I would wonder how they would feel if someone did that to their mother, or their sister," she said. "You just don't do that to people."

Below are some tips and red flags the BBB has offered. To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker page.

  • Instantly qualified for the job.
  • They ask to take the conversation offline.
  • They ask for funds to run a background check.
  • They offer to send money for equipment.
  • Research the business or job posting.
  • Never pay up-front fees or offer sensitive information.
  • Watch for overpayment scenarios.
  • Be wary of the “perfect offer."

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