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Job switchers beware: Some high-paying, remote jobs are scams

The BBB advises job seekers to research job offers to avoid job scams.

Boonchai Wedmakawand

  • Millions of people fall victim to job scams every year. That number has increased during the pandemic.
  • One fraud is to offer fake remote jobs that offer high pay for companies like Amazon and Walmart.
  • These scams have increased as more people are eager for remote jobs during the pandemic.

If you see a job offering to pay six figures shipping products from home, it could be a scam.

That’s because everyone wants to work from home right now, and fraudsters are taking advantage.

According to a December study, the share of online job postings that mention “remote work” nearly tripled across 20 countries between January 2020 and September 2021. At that time the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warned job seekers employment scams are on the rise amid a tumultuous COVID-19 job market. Scams are mostly hitting online job searchers through sites like Indeed with postings that require an upfront investment by the worker — often it appears these jobs are for companies like Amazon or Walmart.

With the latest COVID variant on the rise and people quitting their jobs in record numbers, working remotely has become massively appealing, but there are ways to avoid job scams while seeking high-paying remote work.

Scammers are preying on people who want remote work with better pay

The BBB said that job scams were the “riskiest” of all the ones they tracked in 2018 and 2019, and the numbers have only gone up. Losses reported to the FBI about employment scams increased by 27% between 2018 and 2020, and complaints to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center nearly doubled in 2020. There were nearly 14 million victims with $2 billion in losses related to these scams in 2020, the BBB found. 

All the while, remote jobs remain massively appealing for workers as the pandemic rages on. A report from Indeed and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found in December that 2.5% of job postings mentioned remote work in January 2020, up to 7.5% by September of last year. These postings were largely concentrated in software development, marketing, and communications fields. 

An Insider study from last year found that 37% of respondents without a job wanted remote flexibility. For the last seven months of 2021, workers quit their jobs at near-record rates, totalling more than 38 million. Research shows the reasons include a desire for more pay and less exposure risk. Even though pandemic restrictions eased last year following the wide release of vaccines, remote job postings endured, the researchers wrote.

Fraudsters use sites like Indeed to post jobs that require an upfront cost

Scammers engaged their targets through online job platforms, 32% of them reaching people through the website Indeed, 7% through Linkedin, and 6% through Facebook. The BBB’s 2020 report found that people between the ages of 25 and 34 are most often victimized by job scammers, and that most victims are women — 67% of complaints being filed by them. The largest number of victims believed that they were being hired by Amazon and Walmart.

These schemes have resulted in a large increase in scams that involve reshipping goods purchased with stolen credit cards, the BBB says. Reshipping scams represent 65% of the scam job market, wherein scammers hire victims from job boards and pay them to receive and send packages that they’re never reimbursed for. Other common schemes involve providing victims with counterfeit checks, asking them to send money to third parties for equipment to perform the job that never arrives. 

The BBB advises job seekers to research job offers to avoid job scams, saying they should call or go directly to the actual company’s website for contact information to verify the posting. People can also verify jobs against the BBB website, or create separate email addresses and bank accounts for potential employers to use. The full list of tips is available on the BBB website.

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