Employment scams on the rise during pandemic

The Better Business Bureau warns job seekers to watch out for schemes


David Smith thought he was just applying for a data entry job when he went through the interview process on the app "Telegram."

"I didn't have a whole lot of experience other than that the last job I had was for 25 years, and most of it was retail," Smith said.

Smith eventually accepted a position and his employers sent him a check to buy his home office setup.

Smith said he thought the check was deposited into his account.

Then, Smith said the employer told him to send $2,000 to a vendor to buy the supplies. After he sent the money, Smith said they immediately asked him for another $2,000.

"I was like, okay, wait a minute," Smith said.

It turned out, the check never actually went through to Smith's bank account.

His so-called employers were scammers.

"It kind of put me in a little bit of a tailspin," Smith said, "It took me a little bit of time to kind of pull myself out of that funk it put me in."

The Better Business Bureau said there's been a jump in job schemes attributed to the pandemic.

Now that extended federal unemployment benefits are coming to an end, the BBB expects more people will be looking for work.

"Unfortunately, the crooks know that too," said Steve Baker, an international investigations specialist with the Better Business Bureau.

Baker said fake check scams are one of the most common employment schemes.

He said anything that involves them sending you a check and having you send money for is almost certainly a scam.

He also urges people who do get scammed to tell somebody.

"People are embarrassed, but I tell them, 'Don't get embarrassed, get mad!'" Baker said. "And reach out and complain to law enforcement, get this information out there, maybe they can find the people that did it."

The BBB recommends people reach out to these organizations to report scams: