ORLANDO, Fla. – The check was really in the mail when Cindy Peters checked her mailbox for materials from her new employer a few weeks ago.
The Sebastian, Florida woman told News 6 she received a $3,000 check from a company called BKW Energie.
Peters admitted she had never heard of the company but when she checked the name on the internet, she relaxed.
“I researched it and lo and behold, it was a real company,” she recalled.
She was told the money was supposed to be deposited in her bank account and used to purchase a laptop and other materials for her work as an administrative assistant.
The woman who contacted her left voice messages as well as a series of texts that led to the bogus hiring.
“She was very professional,” Peters said, “I mean she asked all the right questions: What do you look for in a company, what do you look for in a manager.”
News 6 vetted the company and found a Swiss-based international conglomerate, not a company offering work-from-home positions to U.S. citizens.
Peters first contacted News 6 after she called the bank the check was written to and was told the account did not exist.
They also sent a company handbook, a letter of intent and tax forms that, if filled out, would be packed with personal information including her social security number.
“I mean these people went through a lot of research to do this,” Peters said, " I wish I could find out where these people are, I really do.”
Peters told News 6 she was first contacted by text to provide basic information that led to the job offer complete with a salary of $40.25 an hour.
She said she posted her resume including email and cell phone number on ZipRecruiter.com and that is how they found her information.
“I was only on there (the site) four days when I received the texts,” she said.
As we looked closer at the BKW company logo included in her texts, we discovered the bulldog used in one of the messages was actually a school mascot by the name of Bernie the Bulldog, iconic personality of the BKW school district in Albany County, New York.
Jeff Hyman, CEO of Recruit Rockstars, said placing layers of personal information on a job site can make you a target for fraudsters.
“Unfortunately, it is buyer beware,” Hyman told News 6. “It so easy to assume an identity, there are IRS scams, census scams and employer scams.”
Hyman, author of the book Recruit Rockstars, says online sites like Indeed and ZipRecruiter are solid assets but that you need to create identity controls, so you do not become a victim.
“Definitely leave off your mailing address. There are no expectations from companies anymore to include a mailing address,” Hyman said. “I would set up a different email address specifically for your job search, and finally set up a different phone number that can forward calls to your personal phone.”
If you are looking for work, remember to research the company and call to make sure the job offer along with the opening is legitimate.
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