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Job Scams Surge During the Pandemic, BBB Study Finds The Decrease of Pandemic Relief Programs Could

Job Scams Surge During the Pandemic, BBB Study Finds The Decrease of Pandemic Relief Programs Could Create a Perfect Storm for Scammers

Job Scams Surge During the Pandemic, BBB Study Finds The Decrease of Pandemic Relief Programs Could Create a Perfect Storm for Scammers

September 14, 2021

Rockford, IL – September 9, 2021 – Employment scams are on the rise in the turbulent job market created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and people ages 25-34 are the most common targets, followed by people ages 35-44, according to a Better Business Bureau® (BBB®) study released today.   With the recent winding down of many pandemic unemployment benefits, some experts predict millions more will be on the hunt for new jobs, providing a perfect environment for more employment scams.

“The BBB report found that job scams most commonly victimized people ages 25-34, with women filing 67% of complaints about the fraud,” says Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau. “Millions of people are exposed annually with the median financial loss reported by victims being $1,000.”

“In addition, victims often reported a loss of their time, as 32% were never paid for the work they did for an ‘employer’ that turned out to be fraudulent,” says Horton.

The BBB is warning job seekers to verify employment offers to avoid illegal jobs, identity theft, and fake checks resulting from these scams. Con artists are branching out into even more types of job scams.

“Be especially careful with online job boards,” advises Horton. “Many job scams, for example, promise consumers a well-paying job, often working from home, if they pay upfront for training, materials, or equipment.”

dentity theft is a common outcome of job scams, as scammers often steal job seekers’ personal information to open bank accounts to further their fraud. BBB found 34% of victims provided their driver’s license number, and 25% provided their Social Security or Social Insurance number.

The in-depth investigative study -- Job Scams: BBB study finds job scams increased during the pandemic, warns job seekers to verify employment offers to avoid illegal jobs, identity theft, and fake checks -- details the many forms employment fraud takes and the other scams that often result. Read the complete study here.

“Job scams have been a problem for years. BBB’s study finds that the problem worsened in 2020,” says Horton. In 2019, BBB estimated job scams had 14 million victims, with $2 billion in losses. The following year, the 2020 BBB Employment Scams Report by BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust found job scams to be the riskiest of all the scams they tracked in 2018 and 2019.

Losses reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) about employment scams were up 27% between 2018 and 2020.

Horton notes, “Fake checks frequently accompany job scams.” The study reports that 36% of job scam complaints to BBB involved phony checks with fake check complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), increasing by 65% between 2015 and 2020. In the two years since BBB issued an investigative study on fake check fraud, losses absorbed by banks due to fake checks went up 40% to reach $1.3 billion. Common fraudulent job offers involving fake reviews include mystery shopping or secret shopper jobs, car wrap jobs, nanny or caregiver jobs, and small business jobs such as photography or painting houses.

Employment scam victims frequently become unwitting accomplices in other fraud, used as money mules to mail fake checks, or to participate in reshipping scams, which represent 65% of the scam job offers reported to BBB Scam Tracker.

Scammers “hire” victims from job boards, Facebook, or Craigslist, offering to pay them as much as $2,500 to receive and then send on packages. These fraudsters use stolen credit card numbers to order laptops, cellphones, and high-end goods and have them sent to reshipping victims, instructing them to repackage the goods and provide shopping labels to send the packages to a new address often in Russia. The accomplices hired fraudulently for this work are never paid, and somebody may use their identities to open bank accounts.

BB Tips to avoid job scams:
  • Take time to find the job listing on the company’s website directly.
  • Check on businesses offering jobs at BBB.org.
  • If someone wants you to pay for the promise of a job, it’s a “tip-off to the rip-off” that it is almost certainly a scam.
  • Complete an internet search with the employer's name and the word “scam” to see if there are other complaints involving job scams.
  • Examine the email address of those offering jobs to see if it matches the company’s and sender’s names.
  • There are no legitimate jobs that involve receiving and reshipping packages.
  • Don’t fall for a fake check scam. BBB is unaware of any legitimate job offers that send checks to applicants and ask them to send money to a third party.
  • Do not click on links in texts and emails or respond to calls from unknown sources

It is vital that victims of job scams report them. File complaints with:
  • • Better Business Bureau - local BBB or BBB.org/scamtracker.
  • • Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - reportfraud.ftc.gov or call 877-FTC-Help.
  • • Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) - ic3.gov/complaint.

For More Information
If you’ve been the victim of a job scam, report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others recognize and avoid common scam tactics. Before you do business with companies – please check BBB.org for ratings and reviews.
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About BBB: BBB of Chicago and Northern Illinois is a nonprofit organization that has served both consumers and trustworthy businesses for over 93 years and is a part of the IABBB. We help protect consumers from scams and provide a free database for consumers to see business ratings and reviews to find businesses they can trust. We help promote trustworthy businesses and strive to provide tools to help businesses of integrity excel.

The International Association of Better Business Bureaus (IABBB) is the network hub for BBBs in the US, Canada and Mexico. Like BBBs, IABBB is dedicated to fostering honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers -- instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

BBB – Rockford Regional Office 401 W. State Street #500 Rockford, IL 61101 815.323.8419 (cell) www.bbb.org Contact: Dennis Horton BBB - Rockford Regional Office News dhorton@chicago.bbb.org FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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