With roughly 1.2 million San Diegans out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic and seasonal fluctuations, many people are looking for work-from-home opportunities. Scammers are eagerly victimizing would-be employees on two fronts: through bogus work-at-home offers that require substantial upfront investment and through online resume harvesting that results in identity theft.
- Upfront purchase of inventory – any business opportunity that requires more than $100 upfront is likely a scam designed to get you to buy merchandise at inflated prices. These opportunities are often pitched as “Amazon seller” or other “online store” businesses. Victims have been tricked into buying thousands of dollars of merchandise they neither need nor want. Amazon offers free tools and advice to would be sellers at sell.amazon.com.
- Fake check scams – you are sent a large check in the mail to “cover startup expenses.” The check has a substantial overpayment and you are asked to cash the check and wire the excess payment back to the scammer. After you deposit the check and wire out the money, the check bounces and you are out your money.
- Business coaching – the scammer will encourage you to go into business in an area of your choice. You will then be offered increasingly expensive “coaching packages” guaranteed to help you build and expand your business. The “coaching package” will consist of “web development” advice and other publicly available information you could easily access for free on the Internet.
Here is how to protect yourself from the resume harvesting scam:
- Request the name of the hiring company before giving out personal information.
- Research the hiring company to make sure the company is genuine.
- Check the company’s reputation with the BBB and run the name through Ripoff Report.
- Ask for contact information of the person conducting the interview.
- Request a written job offer on company letterhead with the name and contact information for the person responsible for hiring.
- Request hard copies of “hiring paperwork.”
- Do not give your Social Security number or date of birth during an initial interview.
As your District Attorney, I’m committed to increasing communication and accessibility between the DA’s Office and the public. I hope these consumer and public safety tips have been helpful.