Employment Scams: #1 Riskiest Scam Type for Military Spouses & Veterans

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As originally reported by the Better Business Bureau

It’s not easy finding the right job that fits into your busy life. Scouring job boards for opportunities that let you pursue your passions while allowing the flexibility you need to take care of your family takes an emotional toll, and can be extremely stressful the longer it takes. This stress is compounded further for military spouses seeking a new opportunity after PCS’ing. Military.com estimates that service members and their families spend an average of $1,725 in non-reimbursable costs after each move, which can quickly drain one’s savings. Those transitioning out of the service also feel this pressure as they look to translate their valuable skills into civilian careers.

This leaves the door open to scammers looking to make some quick cash at the expense of those who have already given so much. We receive thousands of reports per year from active-duty service members, military families, and veterans through our crowd-sourced scam reporting tool, BBB Scam TrackerSM, and we look to these reports to spot trends and educate military consumers on what’s happening in communities across North America. Of those that shared their story on BBB Scam Tracker, 15 percent of those reporting an employment scam lost money. The median loss was $1,715—nearly double that reported across all consumers.1

Most risky job types
Be especially wary of work-from-home opportunities, including positions like secret shoppers, shipping clerks, administrative assistants, or purchasing specialists. While appealing, these remote opportunities allow scammers to pretend to be an HR manager or your future boss, without you ever seeing their face—or a real paycheck.

Meet your potential employer
Getting offered a job on-the-spot after you’ve only corresponded by phone, via email, or through chat messenger programs is a big red flag. Just think about it—would you want to give someone responsibility over your business without meeting them first?

They contacted me to become a "shipping clerk" where I received packages to my address, inspected them, and rerouted them to their international customer. The compensation was said to be 2500/month before taxes. I was contacted by HR, had two supervisors I reported to, signed a DOCUSIGN document from HR confirming my employment. I had a phone interview with 3 "levels" from the business. I even got offered a "promotion" 3 weeks in because I was a promising new hire. My pay day came and went, and when I talked to HR about it they suddenly didn't know who I was…—a military spouse from North Carolina

Don’t shell out for equipment
Some people start to notice that a situation is fishy after being asked to shell out money to buy training equipment. Scammers may send you a check and ask you to buy a new computer or home office equipment, or tell you to go buy gift cards with the money and send them the numbers off the back.These are the classic signs of a scam.

They told me to go and buy Best Buy gift cards ranging from 10 to 500 dollars and use my credit card to buy and then I would be reimbursed with a bank account they gave me to pay it off… the next day I received a text message from my bank stating that the payment on my credit card failed. —a veteran from Texas

Verify the opportunity
Many scammers try to spoof real, legitimate companies and positions. If an employer says they found your resume on a job-seeking website, check the real company’s job page and only correspond with employers contacting you through a company email address. Having a Google Hangout interview with “successfulcandidate2018@gmail.com,” like one veteran did recently, should raise red flags.

Investigate jobs that sound too good to be true
The biggest piece of advice we can’t stress enough is to trust your gut.

One military spouse from Nebraska received an envelope in the mail with a check with instructions on how to be a mystery shopper:

At first I got a little excited but something didn't feel right; the letter looked very generic without any clear indicator of what the name of the company was so I read through the letter a couple more times and noticed a few discrepancies.

She looked online for the company’s name, and saw several scam reports. She reported it to BBB Scam Tracker to help pay it forward and protect others.

Reporting your story also helps to show others they are not alone. After being offered a job through online chat, one Ohio reservist became wary after the hiring manager kept asking for personal information to be sent via email:

I am a military veteran who served my country on Active Duty for 8 years and still serving in the reserves. I am looking for employment and it's sad that these frauds are out here trying to take advantage and get your information.

We couldn’t agree more. Help us take action against these scammers by warning your friends and family about the signs of fraud, and share your experience at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your story matters and can help save someone else from losing their hard-earned cash to criminals.

About BBB Military Line®: We help military service members, veterans, and their families protect their assets, plan for the future, and prosper in a trusted marketplace. Learn more at BBB.org/Military.