I-Team: Job scams target unemployed Rhode Islanders
With unemployment still high, many Rhode Islanders are looking for work, and the NBC 10 I-Team learned scammers are taking advantage of job hunters.
"It sounded like it had the potential of being a great opportunity," said Tom, who asked NBC 10 to conceal his name after he lost close to $2,000 to a job scam.
But it wasn't.
The scam started with a small job posting in the Providence Journal, looking for limo drivers. Tom called the number, and was told work was available in Providence right away.
The catch? He needed to wire money to someone in New York.
"I suspected something from the very beginning, but it didn't really kick in until the second transfer was made," he said.
The I-Team found that whether it's in a newspaper ad, or online, scammers will target anyone looking for a job.
Tom wasn't the only NBC 10 viewer who experienced a job scam. Christine Richard realized something was fishy before she lost any money.
"You're so desperate for a job. You're looking and you really want somebody to respond. Responses in this state are so few and far between, you sort of get excited and swept up," Richard said of her experience.
She was on Craigslist, when she came across a businessman looking for a part-time personal assistant who could work from home.
"There was a little voice saying you shouldn't do this," she said. "When I hit the send button was when I regretted what I did."
A week later, a check arrived in the mail for close to $3,000, even though Richard hadn't started the job. She was suspicious, and called the organization listed on the check. She learned it was a scam before she lost any money.
"You've got to use your head, and thankfully I was savvy enough to realize what was going on," Richard said.
NBC 10 also talked with Scott Greco with the state Department Of Labor and Training. Greco runs the NetworkRI center in Providence, where hundreds come to search for jobs.
"Legitimate employers are not going to ask you for money up front to be hired," he said.
His advice? Stick with legitimate job websites or use the state's site, www.employri.org. Be wary of any job that doesn't list the company's email or website, and never send money or financial information.
"They want your money or they want your personal information for illegal purposes," Greco said.
Tom, the job hunter who lost $1,800 to a scam, called Rhode Island State Police, who are now investigating his case. He hopes other job hunters will heed his advice.
"Never send anybody any money when you're looking for a job," he said.