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False job offers top BBB's list of 2018 scams


The Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York warns that the leading scam operation these days is a supposed job offer for which the target never actually applied nor interviewed, yet often times still fleeces money from the victim.

Employment scams ranked at number one on the BBB's Top Ten Riskiest Scams list for 2018. These are job offers that are delivered, unsolicited, via emails or social media, including LinkedIn.

"(Victims) are accepting positions that they didn't interview for, then all of a sudden they're asked for things that employers would normally ask for: a social security number, a bank account for direct deposit," said Melanie McGovern, communications director for the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York. "Then what happens is they'll get a check for what they call 'startup costs,' and then they're told - if they're a secret shopper - to buy things, or buy things for their office, and the check turns out to be fraudulent. Then they lose that money. Or, they're asked to purchase items to ship to other customers and then they're out that money."

Second on the list are online purchases. These include businesses that pop up online in social media offering products such as largely discounted brand-name merchandise, t-shirts or other popular items. After the customer forwards payment, the shop quickly disappears. McGovern says some complaints they received included Buffalo Sabres jerseys offered online for a below-average price, only to prove to be fraudulent.

Among the dangers with online shopping scams is that many times, the perpetrators create a website that looks similar, if not an exact replica, of a legitimate established company. McGovern admits she came across an offer that was appealing at first, until she utilized her own employer's Scam Tracker to find out it was indeed too good to be true.

"I saw a cute bag in my Instagram feed the other day. The first thing I did was I went to BBB.org and typed up that address. It came up with an 'F'," McGovern said. "So, Melanie will not be buying that bag. You see things, these ads look slick. They look legitimate. There's comments from people saying 'I love this bag, it came right away.'"

Even the positive comments, she warns, could be part of the scam.

Completing the BBB's Top Ten list of riskiest scams are, in order: fake checks or money orders, home improvements, advance fee loans, romance (typically a would-be suitor asking for cash), tech support (which includes a request for sensitive personal information), investments, travel and vacation offers and government grant offers.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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