International student loses nearly $6,500 from employment scam

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VANCOUVER, BC: Securing a job as a post-secondary student can be an exciting time in a young person’s life, but one international student studying in Vancouver learned the hard truth about employment scams, which resulted in them losing nearly $6,500. 

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Mainland BC and Yukon is reminding those applying for jobs to remain cautious about quick job offers and work-from-home gigs that require little to no experience. 
In December 2022, an international student living in Vancouver was interviewed and offered a position as a ‘Remote Data Entry Operator’ by a scammer posing as an employer at an established Canadian media company. 

After being hired, the student was told to they would need expensive equipment to work from home. They were provided an employment contract and asked to share government-issued ID, proof of address, bank statements and banking information for payroll. 

The fake employer then sent purchase orders for the equipment to the student, at a total cost of $6,481. A bill the student then paid via e-transfer, with the understanding they would be send a reimbursement cheque. But everything went sideways when the reimbursement cheques started bouncing at the bank. The student ended up finding the real employer and found out the job was not real. Unfortunately, the student hasn’t been able to get their money back.
“Although this media company was hiring at the time, this specific job listing was fake and not associated with their organization,” said Aaron Guillen, Media and Communications Specialist for BBB Serving Mainland BC. “Our BBB Investigations Specialist found that there was more than one incident where a job-seeker was lured into this same hiring ad and counterfeit website combo. It’s so unfortunate to hear about this kind of story, because this student was trying to make some income with a part-time job and they were thrown for a loop with this scam.”

Employment scams rang in as the fifth riskiest scam in 2022, according to the BBB Canadian Risk Report. On average, 1 out of 8 people who encountered the scam ended up falling for it and becoming a victim (12.5%), with $3000 in median losses. 
Here are BBB’s top five tips to avoid employment scams:

Be wary of job offers that don’t require an interview. Even during the peak hiring season, reputable companies prefer to talk to top job candidates before hiring them. If a job offer is presented without an interview or meeting you in person, question the company’s hiring practices and do a little more digging. If you use a separate email address when applying for jobs, you can avoid fake offers from scam employers you did not contact.

Employers will never ask for upfront payments. Beware of businesses that ask applicants to pay for job supplies, application, or training fees. Be careful if a company promises you great opportunities or a big income under the condition that you pay for coaching, training, certifications or directories. These expenses are the employer’s responsibility and asking for money is a big red flag that something is wrong. 

Government agencies post all jobs publicly and freely. Government jobs never charge for information about jobs or applications for jobs. You can go on the Government of BC or Government of Canada websites directly to see job openings for yourself instead of a third-party job listing website. Be wary of any offer to give you special access or guarantee you a job for a fee – if you are paying for the promise of a job, it’s probably a scam.

Never deposit unexpected or fishy checks. Be cautious sharing any kind of personal information (including your banking and credit cards) or accepting any kind of prepayment. Similarly, don’t fall for an overpayment scam. No legitimate job would ever overpay an employee and ask for money to be wired elsewhere.

Be cautious about the information you share in a resume or job application. Online applications usually won’t ask you for your birthday, banking information, or proof of address until they actually offer you the job. According to Service Canada, you are not required by law to provide your SIN before you are hired. If you’re ever feeling unsure about the amount of information an application is asking you for, consider it a red flag and research the employer name and the word “scam” to see if there are any reports involving job scams. Look for the Sign of a Better Business by watching for the BBB seal or by searching on BBB.org for a reputable employer you can trust.