Hawaii resident falls for fake job offer, loses thousands of dollars; BBB says to look for these red flags

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — The job search requirement for Hawaii residents to receive unemployment benefits starts again on Sunday, May 30. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning job seekers to beware of fake postings.

Employment scams were the second most prevalent scam in 2020.

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Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, most job applications and interviews have moved online. The BBB said scammers are using this to their advantage, using fake job websites and emails to steal people’s information.

“The problem is people apply, and it turns out it’s not legitimate and that some of the challenge with this, you’re not just losing money, but you’re really giving out that sensitive personal information,” said Roseann Freitas with the Better Business Bureau.

Scammers may ask for more personal information in those applications, like Social Security Number, birth date and address, which they can use to steal someone’s identity. Freitas said to avoid this, always research and confirm the job opening.

“Go directly to that company’s site,” said Freitas. “And most companies will list if they have opportunities open, and if they don’t, pick up the phone and call. You want to verify before you share any sensitive information.”

Some red flags that a job may be fake include grammar and spelling mistakes on a website or job email, if the job description is vague on what’s required and what skills are needed and if the job recruiter refuses to do a face-to-face interview.

Freitas said scammers often use certain jobs to pull people in.

“The positions that are more likely to be scams are anything: work from home … packaging reshipment, anything to do in that line, a secret shopper position,” said Freitas.

In one employment scam incident, a local resident applied for a work-from-home position. They received emails from a fake employer telling them that they would receive a check which they should deposit and use to buy equipment to work from home. They were emailed which businesses to send the money to.

However, once the resident sent the money to those places, they found out that the check the employer sent had bounced, so no money was deposited into the resident’s account, and they were charged for the expenses. The resident did not receive any equipment and lost over $3,000.

“If it sounds just, ‘Oh wow, I have, you know, minimal skill set, and they’re going to pay me this awesome wage,’ it’s too good to be true,” said Freitas.

If you experience this scam, the BBB says to report it to them and to call the Honolulu Police Department. If it happened online, contact the FBI or the Federal Trade Commission.

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