A job offer via text message? A scam if there ever was one.

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'We’re sending you a check so you can buy office supplies is a huge red flag

Summers are usually ripe with job scams and 2023 is turning out to be no exception.

With hundreds of thousands of new jobs opening up every month, a 20% rise in the opportunities to work remotely, more seniors looking to fill in the gap that inflation’s created, and the ease of searching for a new gig sitting behind your computer, scammers are finding ways to take advantage. The newest riff is using instant messaging apps such as Telegram Messenger to do their fake recruitment and interviews.

Imagine a recruiter from a well-known company reaching out about a customer service position. They tell you that their only way to communicate is through Telegram Messenger, so you download it, open it up, and start chatting away. Lo and behold you land the job! Congrats.

“Oh, and we’re going to send you a check so you can set up your home office, too,” the supposed hiring manager says. “All I need is for you to answer some questions so my office can get the payment taken care of.”

Time to pop the cork, right? Not so fast. First, you should read what happened to Terry of Monee Ill., when they were victim of a similar job scam.

“I unknowingly fell for a job scam where I applied and got hired by American Specialty Health as a digital health coach or so I thought, and was sent two checks of $4,992.00 each, which was supposed to buy the equipment that I needed for my new position with the company,” Terry said.

And everything proceeded swimmingly, too – for a while.

After Terry deposited the check, the fake company's "team leader" Ashley Martinson asked for part of it back so it could be used by another new employee.

Unfortunately, when Terry tried to do that the account was overdrawn by $6,000 because "Ashley" and her fellow scammers had already drained it. Even though Terry didn't actually withdraw the money the bank said it was not liable for the theft.

Verify, verify, verify

To steer clear of the Telegram ruse and other job scams, Gema de las Heras, a consumer education specialist at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), says that the first thing any job seeker should do is verify every single job opening they are considering. 

“Visit the official website of the organization or company you’re applying for. Don’t use the site the caller gives you. Find the real site yourself. Most have a “career opportunities” or 'jobs' section,” de las Heras said.

Here are three more tips that could help you stay out of job harm’s way:

  • View other people's comments. Look up the name of the company plus the words "scam," "review," or "complaint."

  • Make sure your personal information is protected. Don't give personal information to anyone who demands it right away. A legitimate employer won't hire you before meeting with you in person or virtually.

  • Just like candy, it is never a good idea to deposit a check from a stranger. Any honest employer who is honest will never send you a check and then ask you to send them a portion. 

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