4 Investigates Alert: Fake recruiters target job seekers in gift card scam | KOB 4
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4 Investigates Alert: Fake recruiters target job seekers in gift card scam

Colton Shone
April 12, 2019 11:15 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - They say finding a job can be a full-time job in of itself. Instead of hitting the pavement and dropping off your resume in person things are done a little differently now.

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It's a digital age and some hot jobs posted online turn out to be fake ones.

An Albuquerque man shared with KOB how a high-paying dream job quickly turned into a reality check.

Stephen Clark has a lengthy resume. He's a veteran, a former radio broadcaster and one-time gubernatorial candidate for Guam. He wasn't a serious candidate, it was part of a stint from his radio job.

Flash forward years later: the hallelujah chorus of retirement. "I was retired for ten years, it just wasn't working out," he said.

So last summer, he needed to get back to work. Stephen did what most of us do when looking for a job, he saturated the market.

"Sites like Jobsgalore, Indeed, LinkedIn," he said.

Not too much time passed before he got an email from a recruiter saying he fit the bill for a job that paid $40 to $50 an hour, all he had to do was trust them and sit tight until further instruction came along.

"This envelope from FedEx arrives, with my name, address, return address, looks very legitimate," he said.

Inside the envelope was a letter from the recruiter with a strange email, fundsdepartment0job4u@.com, and a check made out to Stephen for $2,200.

The signature on the check was of President Woodrow Wilson, the nation's 28th president. That's something Stephen didn't catch at first.

Then there was another red flag.

"You have to go to Google hangout and we'll give you all the information. This is a digital world. I'm one of those old guys, I come from the analog world," he said.

In Google Hangout, an instant messaging app, he was instructed to submit a writing test and to cash the check to buy a computer for his job. He couldn't cash it because Stephen's bank was in another state.

That's okay, the scammers said. They told him to buy $200 worth of iTunes gift cards instead.

"I need you to take a picture of the back, scratch the thing off to reveal the code. Send us the picture. That's it? What's this for? This is to cover the software on the computer we're going to send you," he said.

Cholla Khoury is a consumer protection attorney with the New Mexico Attorney General's Office. She says scams involving gift cards are on the rise in our state.

"Anytime that a vendor or somebody claims they're only able to accept payment in one certain way, that's always a red flag and when that payment is through a gift card. That is always a scam. No, if's and or buts about it," she said.

Khoury says scammers can take advantage of anyone.

"I think it's really important as a family, as a younger person, talking with an older person, make sure we talk about this issue," she said.

Stephen stopped talking to the fake recruiter from Manpower Groups after he called up the real company "Manpower Group" and they said he was scammed.

He's out $200 but it could have been worse.

In the end, Stephen did find a job working his way back into the business on the other side of the camera as an operator for KOB 4. He's sharing his story to warn others.

Credits

Colton Shone

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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