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Cleveland Better Business Bureau reports remote job employment scams are skyrocketing

Report indicates employment scams are up more than 250% in 2023 compared to this time last year
Cleveland Better Business Bureau reports remote job employment scams are skyrocketing
Posted at 10:24 PM, Jul 03, 2023

CLEVELAND — Melissa Rafferty of North Royalton feels fortunate that she wasn't pulled into a bogus work-from-home job offer after hearing about the growing number of lousy job offers victimizing job seekers nationwide.

Rafferty told News 5 she was initially excited about the online job offer for customer service and human resources work, but when she did a background check on the company, her optimism quickly changed.

"So when I found this opportunity, I thought, 'Oh gosh, someone is finally reaching out to me with a pretty creditable position,'" Rafferty said. "But I noticed that the times were odd that they were requesting interviews, and then I saw that they were no longer in business, that their license had been revoked several years ago.

Sue McConnell, president of the Cleveland BBB, showed News 5 her agency's latest report confirming job scams have skyrocketed by more than 250% in the first part of 2023 compared to last year at this time.

McConnell said it's crucial job seekers do background checks on companies offering remote "work-from-home" employment, especially if the job involves repackaging and reshipping undisclosed items.

"People are very easily duped; they don't even realize that they may be participating in a criminal enterprise, McConnell said. "Reshipping scams are looking for someone to reship packages; this merchandise has usually been purchased with somebody's stolen credit card, and the scammer is going to receive the package, and then they are going to resell this merchandise."

McConnell reported some Ohio job seekers were left without thousands of dollars in paychecks from companies that claimed to be headquartered here in northeast Ohio.

"The Cleveland BBB conducted its own investigation on Leading Optimity and AB Fulfillment, but our efforts to contact these companies via phone or email were unsuccessful," McConnell said. "You, as a so-called employee, get strung along for about a month or two waiting for your paycheck; you wait to be reimbursed for your expenses, only to find out that you've been scammed."

News 5 traveled to both Northeast Ohio office locations for Leading Optimity and AB Fulfillment listed on its websites, but both locations did not exist. News 5 also tried to reach the companies using the email and phone numbers listed on the company websites, but the emails came back as undelivered, and the phone calls were not returned.

McConnell urged job seekers to run background checks and check reviews on companies before taking a job or accepting a job interview.

"Google them, check BBB.org, McConnell said. "If you have to pay any expenses up front, you have to buy supplies; you have to pay for reshipping packages; if you're going to incur expenses up-front, then that is a big red flag."

McConnell and the BBB said it's important to check the email address of the recruiter or company representative to ensure it is connected to the company and not a personal "Gmail" or "Yahoo" address. It's a "red flag" if the company uses a free email provider.

McConnell also said to be cautious about providing personal information to unverified recruiters and online applications you don't remember applying for. McConnell warned not to pay for a job, initial on-the-job onboarding/training, or work for a "free trial period."

"You may be giving them your social security number, they may want a bank account so they can direct deposit your wages, you'll be handing a lot of personal information to a criminal," McConnell said.

To learn more about reshipping and employment scams, check out the Better Business Bureau national website.

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