Ocoee police warn job seekers about 'virtual assistant' scheme

$8,000 taken from woman's bank account

By Clay LePard - Reporter

OCOEE, Fla. - Tatiana Robinson hopes others learn from what happened to her, after a virtual assistant job she took turned out to be thieves stealing thousands of dollars from her bank account. 

 "It was a lot of cursing," she said. "I was a little upset. People work too hard for somebody to just come into their account and take out what they work hard for."

Robinson told News 6 she was searching for jobs on the popular career website, indeed.com, when she was approached for a personal assistant opening. After an initial phone conversation, follow-up emails and text messages, she learned it would be a virtual assistant job for a supposed real estate company. 

"I've done that type of work before, so I'm used to it," she said. "Usually it's in an office. It's not over text messaging."

The job started smoothly enough, with Robinson working on spreadsheets and seeing her first check come through direct deposit into her bank account. But once she got paid a second time, red flags went off in her head. Robinson received her second check in the mail, for an amount over what she was supposed to be paid.

"I was a little skeptical because you sent me direct deposit before," she said. 

Robinson was told to send the leftover money back to payroll.

The next day, while at her other job, Robinson checked her phone and learned $8,000 had gone missing from her bank account. That's when she knew it was all gone. 

Ocoee Police Deputy Chief Stephen McCosker told News 6 as more and more work moves online and remotely, job seekers need to be diligent.

"We see this scam in various forms," he said. "There has always been people trying to defraud other people. Things to watch out for are asking for weird forms of payment or issuing a check after they issue you a check."

Robinson is now looking for another job, while police continue to investigate. Her bank closed that account.

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