SCAM ALERT: Work from Home Scams on the Rise

November 19, 2019

ATLANTA, GA – Attorney General Chris Carr and the Consumer Protection Division are warning Georgians about scammers operating under the veil of potential employers.  

“We are seeing a wave of fake employer scams where con artists use information posted on job websites and forums to exploit victims,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “We want all Georgians to have access to quality jobs and opportunities that allow them to thrive, and we will not tolerate this disturbing trend. If you’re in the market for a new job, especially a work-from-home opportunity, look out for the following red flags of a scam.”   

It can be difficult to distinguish legitimate online job offers from those placed by people who are just out to scam you, especially when it comes to work-from-home jobs.  Scammers advertise jobs on the same online job sites that real employers and job placement firms use, hoping they can con you out of your money or get you to turn over your personal information.

These scams are becoming more sophisticated. Scammers may pose as job recruiters or as employees of legitimate companies. They monitor online job sites and send emails to people who have posted their resumes there.

In one instance reported to our office’s Consumer Protection Division, a scammer sent an email posing as a manager from a company called Huawei Technologies. In an email, the scammer claimed that after reviewing the applicant’s resume, they were offering her a job working from home that involved price comparing products online and entering that information into a Google spreadsheet. The scammer told the victim she would receive $4,000 a month for this work. Once the victim accepted the job, the scammer sent another email asking her to fill out a W-4, a direct deposit authorization form, a photo of the front and back sides of her driver’s license, a current photo of herself and a utility bill (as “proof of residency”). The victim emailed back this information and began work as described.  She did not realize she had been scammed until a month went by and she never received a paycheck as promised.  By then, she was unable to reach the scammer, who now had all the information needed to access her bank account, create fake IDs, commit tax identity fraud and apply for credit cards in the victim’s name.

The Consumer Protection Division wants consumers to be familiar with these red flags of a job scam:

  • Requests for payment.  Real placement agents or employers do not require payment from job applicants, whether it’s for training materials, certification, background and credit checks, or the recruiter’s expenses for placing you with a company.  
  • Requests for sensitive financial or personal information.  You should be suspicious of any company that requests via phone or email your Social Security number, driver’s license, bank account, PayPal, or credit card information as part of the initial application process.  
  • Offers high salary for simple tasks or minimal experience.  A legitimate employer will evaluate your experience and abilities before deciding on what to pay you. Scammers commonly advertise high-paying jobs that state “no experience necessary” or “will train.” Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it could be!
  • Immediately offers job.  Actual employers take their time to research and get to know potential job candidates before offering a position.  Be skeptical of a job offer that has come via email, when you’ve never had a telephone or in-person interview.
  • Communicates via non-business address.  If a company communicates from a free email account such as Yahoo or Gmail, this could signify a scam. Legitimate job-related emails usually come from corporate email accounts.  
  • Know the common scams. Ads for envelope stuffing, at-home craft or assembly work, medical or claims processing, and refund recovery, are often placed by scammers. Additionally, be on the lookout for jobs that ask you to accept payment to your own bank account and then wire money on behalf of the company. Almost always, the money the victims are transferring is stolen, and therefore, you would be committing theft and wire fraud.  
  • Do your homework. If you’ve never heard of the company, research it on the Better Business Bureau’s website. You might also do a search for the company name and the word “complaints” or “scam.”  If you recognize the company name, contact it through the phone number listed on the legitimate website and verify whether it is actually seeking to hire for the position in question, and if so, what the hiring process consists of.

If you think you’ve been targeted by a job scam, you can submit a complaint to the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Division