Live 5 Scambusters: BBB says job scams target unemployed

Updated: Jun. 25, 2020 at 2:27 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - At a time when so many people are looking for work, the Better Business Bureau says unemployed workers are easy targets for scammers.

“It’s like I got added to some list or something,” Melissa Helton said.

The North Charleston woman is talking about the barrage of calls and text messages she now receives with different opportunities to make money. Helton is like millions of other Americans who have been looking for work during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The legitimate work opportunities have given way to deceptive recruiters and outright scams. She’s received text messages promising a $500 weekly check to have her car wrapped for Aquafina or $700 a week to advertise for Red Bull. Car wrap scams result in a fake check that will lead to check fraud.

“Another person the other day just contacted me about doing something with payroll and I’ve never done anything with payroll before,” Helton said.

The BBB says more than half of people targeted by employment scams are unemployed at the time they’re contacted. Nearly three out of four people who lose money to employment scams are already in a financial bind according to a recent BBB survey.

Helton also received messages that appeared to be from real recruiting firms but the contact didn’t seem right.

“He said ‘We’re definitely legit but we just need you to sign in through this third party application,’” Helton said.

The recruiter wanted to communicate through the Telegram App. Google Hangouts is another popular choice with scammers. If a job recruiter or employer asks you to download a different app to communicated and won’t speak in person, you’re likely dealing with a scammer.

Other red flags for employment scams are quick hires and upfront paychecks before you’ve done any work. A scammer may send a check and ask you to purchase equipment or use it to pay for training. This will lead to check fraud if you deposit the check because it likely isn’t real.

According to the BBB, employment scams have been the riskiest scams for the last two years. That status is based on how many scams, how likely people are to fall for it, and how much money they lose.

If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at

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