Craigslist babysitting scam targets job seekers

Craigslist babysitting scam targets job seekers

By Matt Grant. CREATED Feb 6, 2012

CAPE CORAL - A new scam is targeting babysitters looking for work. Except the job doesn't exist and the only one getting paid is the scammer.

Type in "babysitting" on Craigslist and you'll find dozens of jobs.

"I was really looking for anything at the moment," said Rebecca Hunt, 19. "'Cause there isn't anything out there."

Hunt was looking for part-time work when she came across an ad for a babysitter promising $475 a week. She emailed thinking it was legit.

The man told her he was from the UK and was moving into a Cape Coral rental house on SW 4th Court.

He even offered to pay her $500 up front. Instead he mailed a check for $2700.

"When you got the check in the mail did you think, 'OK they're for real?,'" asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.

"Yeah," said Hunt. "I honestly did."

The scammer told Hunt he made a mistake and accidentally mailed too much. He told her to immediately deposit the check and then mail him back a set amount.

If she had deposited the check, it would have went through, until the bank realized it was phony.

Instead, Hunt went to cash the check and that's when she found out it was a scam.

"They ran it through the system twice and then the second time she was like it's a bad check," said Hunt, who says the cashier told her not to try to cash it again or she would "probably get arrested."

"I was furious," said Hunt.

The Better Business Bureau says this is a variation of a common scam. The BBB says to be careful of emails with lots of spelling mistakes, requests for bank account or social security numbers and being asked to wire money.

"Basically be careful," said Hunt, "with who you apply to."

The Craigslist ad has been deleted.

What to watch for

The BBB offered up some tips and red flags to watch out for:

  • Employer offers the opportunity to become rich without leaving home - While many legit businesses allow employees to work from home there are scammers trying to take advantage of senior citizens, stay-at-home moms, students  and injured or handicapped people looking to make money conveniently at home. Job hunters should use extreme caution when consider work-at-home offers and research the company first.
  • The employer asks for money upfront - It is rarely advisable for an applicant to pay upfront fees or make a required purchase to get a job. The BBB often hears from job hunters who paid a phony employers for a supposedly required background checks or training for jobs that don't exist. Also be wary of job placement companies that ask for large upfront fees to find you a job.
  • Salary and benefits seem too good to be true - Phoney employers might brag about exceptionally high salary potential and excellent benefits for little work and no experience necessary in order to lure unsuspecting job hunters.
  • Employer emails are rife with grammatical and spelling errors - Online fraud is often perpetrated by scammers located outside of the U.S. Their first language usually isn't English and this is often evident in their poor grasp of the language which can include poor grammar and misspelling common words.
  • Employer requires you to check your credit report - If you get an email from an interested employer saying they need to check your credit report through a recommended website, it could be an attempt to get you to divulge sensitive financial information or sign up for credit monitoring services.
  • Employer is quick to ask for personal information such as Social Security or bank account numbers - Some job seekers have been surprised to learn they've gotten a job without having to do a single interview. However, when the employer then asked for personal info in order to fill out necessary paperwork, suspicions were raised and rightly so. Regardless of the reason, a job applicant should never give out their Social Security or bank account numbers over the phone or email and only after they've confirmed the job is legitimate.
  • The job requires you to wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram or receive and forward suspicious goods - Many phony jobs require the employee to cash a check sent by the company through the mail and then wire a portion of the money on to another entity. Reasons given for this requirement vary from scam to scam. Whatever the arson, the check might clear the employee's bank account but will eventually turn out to be fake and the employee is out the money he or she wired back to the scammers. The BBB also warns against receiving and mailing suspicious goods -such as electronics or luxury - items overseas.

Matt Grant