Employment Scams Spike: How to protect yourself

Employment Scams Spike: How to protect yourself

BOSTON -- According to the Bureau of Consumer Protection, employment scams are on the rise in 2018.

"If it sounds too good to be true, it must be bad," said John Vargo, who fell victim to a scam.

Vargo isn't naive, and said he knows that scammers are lurking everywhere. But even with his radar up, a new scam slipped past him.

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It started when Vargo logged on to job search engines. Random applications starting coming in over email, asking for his Social Security number.

"I've always been afraid of giving out my social because of all the stuff that goes on," said Vargo.

The Bureau of Consumer Protection has seen a surge in employment scams. The number of complaints submitted in 2018 has already surpassed the total number seen in 2017.

"If you get the job, and you report there the first day, and they take you down to HR, and then they take your Social Security number, that makes sense. Giving that information out before you show up for work is a no-no," said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

But Vargo's story has a twist. A scammer posing as a package re-shipping company called "Perfection Processing" reached out and asked for his Social Security number. Vargo wisely ignored it, and moved on. But then boxes started arriving for him to re-ship. Suddenly, he had a login to their website, and he was told he would be paid at the end of the month.

"We got some stuff from H&M, and there were two pairs of jeans," said Vargo.

Vargo knew it seemed fishy, but the damage was already done. He started getting fraud notices from PayPal. The scammers are using people like Vargo to move around stolen products and open fraudulent lines of credit.

"As soon as I got the first, these first two packages, I knew that there was something up," said Vargo.

Even so, Vargo now is trying to scrub any association from bogus accounts set up in his name.

Another way to protect yourself is to always look closely at the alleged company's website. There were glaring errors and odd statements on Perfection Processing's website that John admits he didn't see.

If you are offered a job, it's always a good idea to look into the company behind that offer. You can check with the Better Business Bureau. https://www.bbb.org/en/us/ma