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BBB: Man out thousands of dollars in work at home scam

Published On: Feb 03 2014 04:02:16 PM CST
FactFinder 12 Don't Fall For It

The Better Business Bureau has a warning for consumers, searching for jobs that they can do from home, to be aware of offers that sound too good to be true.

A Kansas man contacted the BBB after accepting an online job offer that ended up costing him thousands of dollars. He had submitted his resume through various online job search websites and received an email response for a position as Purchasing Manager/Agent from Hot Commodities Trading and Logistics Company in Switzerland. He was told that he would receive a salary of $3,200 every two weeks, plus additional commissions and benefits.

After numerous emails and phone calls with representatives from the company's "office" in New York, the man agreed to take the job. He was assigned a supervisor who gave him step-by-step instructions regarding how he should proceed in his new position. Once each step was completed, the man would email his supervisor for his next instructions.

First, the business asked the man what the balance was on his credit card. He told his supervisor that it was $10,073.29.  The business gave him access to a bank account to use to pay off his credit card debt and to also get reimbursed for the things he would be instructed to buy.

When his credit card was at a zero balance, the consumer was told to purchase high-end electronics from a list of Digital SLR cameras, and Mac laptops.  The consumer was directed to use his own credit card and to not spend any more than the amount that had been paid off by the company.

Once the items were purchased, the consumer emailed his supervisor for shipping instructions. He then received shipping labels for every item purchased. Each one had to be boxed separately and, depending on the instructions, either sent by US Mail, FedEx or UPS. All merchandise was shipped to Russia. Nothing was allowed to be sent directly from the store.

After the receipts for the equipment and shipping fees were scanned and emailed back to the consumer's supervisor, he was given access to another bank account to pay for the shipping fees.

This process was repeated two more times.  On the third round of purchases, the consumer was having trouble reaching his supervisor at Hot Commodities for payment instructions, so he attempted to use one of the previous bank accounts to pay off the new charges on his credit card.  Several days later, his credit card company informed him that all of the account numbers he had used to transfer money from his credit card to the accounts provided by Hot Commodities were obtained fraudulently, and the charges were reversed back to him.  The man now has nearly $30,000 in credit card debt which includes his original balance of $10,073.29.

A BBB investigation was unable to locate Hot Commodities Trading and Logistics either in the US or in Switzerland. It has no website and the phone numbers given to the consumer are always busy when dialed. In this particular situation, all the BBB could do to help the man was give him the names of several law enforcement agencies to contact and encourage him to work with his credit card company to dispute the charges.

"Scams being perpetrated through bogus online employment opportunities are on the rise. They often target the most vulnerable - people who have lost their jobs, students, stay-at-home mothers, the disabled and the elderly," said Hegarty. "Job scams often provide criminals the opportunity to commit identity theft when victims provide their personal information to these phony 'employers'."

BBB offers these tips before committing to a work from home job.

•       Be cautious if the job involves shipping merchandise to a foreign country or requires you to make purchases from your own accounts.
•       Never pay money for a job offer. True job offers will not require you to pay a fee or buy equipment in order to be hired.
•       Be suspicious if you are asked to "wire" money or transfer funds that involve personal accounts.

Better Business Bureau, Inc. (BBB) has been assisting U.S consumers and businesses since 1912 and is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing trust in the marketplace. Accountability, education and recognition of business role models are key components to the BBB's mission. Today BBB serving Nebraska, South Dakota the Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa is supported by approximately 10,000 Accredited Businesses that have voluntarily committed to adhere to BBB's Standards of Trust. Consumers are encouraged to visit bbb.org for Business Reviews on over 4 million companies or to report complaints and possible scams.

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