Word to the Wise: Old home healthcare employment scam claims new victim

Word to the Wise: Old home healthcare employment scam claims new victim

An old scam involving bad checks and bogus job opportunities has claimed a new victim, reports the Orange Police Department (OPD).

According to a police report from OPD, a 24-year-old local caretaker completed an online application on Indeed.com with her résumé attached. Jan. 17, she received a response from someone on “the Care Team,” who she assumed was a representative of Care.com, a website that offers a variety of caregiver services and employment opportunities for caregivers. The Care Team told her she would be taking care of “Hannah,” a 65-year-old female who would be moving to Jefferson County on Feb. 5. The caregiver would need to start preparing for Hannah’s arrival, they told her, so they sent her a check to pay for medical equipment – a wheelchair, oxygen supplies and other items. She received a check for $3,850 and deposited the funds into her bank account.

Once the check cleared, she withdrew the funds and contacted the Care Team to inquire about the medical equipment they said she was to purchase. The caregiver was disappointed when the Care Team rep told her they no longer needed her services. They said they had found a local agency to provide the services at a lower rate and told her they would need their money back. They instructed her to deposit $3,490 into a Wells Fargo account and gave her an account number. They told her to take the remainder, $360, and send it to another person in a “Walmart to Walmart” transaction, reports OPD. So, she did.

Jan. 27, the caregiver received a call from her bank, Sabine Federal Credit Union. The bank representative gave her even more bad news – the check was no good. It was from a closed account at a Louisiana bank. She reported the fraud to police Jan. 30.

Rather than attaining gainful employment, her goal in submitting her application on Indeed.com, this victim is now on the hook for the thousands of dollars she sent out to the scammers and possibly for bank fees associated with this type of fraud.

She is not alone. This type of scam has claimed numerous victims across the United States, and more than one of those fraudsters has claimed to be from Care.com.

In January 2015, a report from the Federal Trade Commission warned caregivers about the potential problem.

It begins, “Do you offer your professional services as a babysitter, nanny, or other kind of caregiver? You may have used websites that can match you up with potential clients – sites like Care.com or Sittercity.com. These sites can be a convenient and efficient way to drum up business. But scammers may misuse these sites. FTC staff has seen complaints about con artists cheating caregivers with a counterfeit check scheme that asks you to send payment to a third party. …

“What’s the problem? The check and the third party turn out to be fake. It takes only a day or two for your bank to make the money available to you, but it can take weeks for your bank to determine a check is phony.”

In March 2015, ABC7 reported that a San Francisco State University student put her babysitting résumé on Care.com. She soon received a response offering $18 an hour for a part-time position. The scammer in her case was particularly persuasive, the victim told a reporter.

“I lost my husband and a 4-month-old baby in April,” the flimflammer reportedly asserted. “Joe happens to be the only survivor of the accident, but he currently uses a wheelchair.”

The woman went even further with her deception, telling the student she was deaf and her son was disabled. She needed help, she said.

So the unwitting student, who told the reporter she was touched deeply by the woman’s story, accepted the job. The scammer sent her a check for $3,000, and the young woman deposited the money into her account. She was told to keep $300 for herself and send the rest to a wheelchair seller. She checked her bank, but it had put a three-week hold on the check. So, she contacted her perspective employer to explain. That’s when the woman asked the student for a $500 loan until the check cleared. The student suddenly became suspicious.

Luckily, she explained, she avoided tragedy. But others have not been so lucky, like the victim in Orange.

Care.com responded to concerns about babysitting and caregiver scams associated with its website. Text on the company’s Web page titled “Care.com and Scams: How to Avoid Babysitting Scams,” advises applicants to beware of deception and offers tips for staying safe.

The FTC recommends, “If a potential client urges you to transfer money using a service like Western Union or MoneyGram, it’s probably a scam.

“Don’t send money to someone you don’t know, either in cash or through a money transfer service. Likewise, don’t deposit a check from someone you don’t know and then transfer the money. No matter how convincing the story, it’s a lie.”

The FTC suggests that if someone has been tricked into transferring money, they report it to the money transfer company: MoneyGram can be reached at (800) 666-3947 (1-800-955-7777 for Spanish) or at moneygram.com. The number to Western Union is (800) 448-1492.

After that, report it to the FTC and, if possible, notify the site that’s being misused to help prevent others from becoming victims.