PORTSMOUTH -- Portsmouth police are warning job seekers about a new scheme involving help wanted ads.
Here's how it works: The perpetrator places a help wanted ad. After you apply for the job, the perpetrator sends you a pay advance in the form of a bad check. Unknowingly, you deposit the check and that's when plans change. The alleged 'employer" now no longer needs your services and asks you to send some of the money back.
Police spokesperson Misty Holley explains what victims are then told by the perpetrator.
"For your trouble, I sent you a check for $800 for four weeks. For your trouble, you go ahead and keep $200 and send me $600," Holley explained.
It’s only after the money is sent that the victim realizes the check was no good.
"We're seeing it where they are advertising in the newspaper for drivers, babysitters, for elderly care to help with a sick relative or something of that matter, and the person gets their email address and they start corresponding back and forth - setting up dates times - even how much they are going to bet paid," says Holley.
One college student, who prefers not to reveal her identity, says when a job offer via email was sent to her ODU address, she thought it was legit and chose to respond.
The alleged employer claimed to be from TCL Corporation based in China. The student's job was to buy supplies for the company. Within days after responding to the email, she got a $2,000 check through FedEx.
"The fact that FedEx, it was sent overnight, made me think that, okay, maybe this is real," says the student.
She says she was able to deposit the check into her bank account with no problem. Three days later, when she checked her account online, the money was there. She thought it was safe, then the plans changed.
The employer told her that the company would buy the supplies instead. She was asked to send back $1,900. When the student tried to withdraw the money, the bank realized that the check was fake.
"Thank God that I had a bank that said, 'Look, we're not going to let you do this,'" the student said.
Holley says these cases are common and they are hard to crack. Everything they use to pull off the crime is made up. In most cases, the victims use Money Gram or Western Union to send money to the culprit who is out of state and sometimes out of the country.
"By the time you realize that this check is no good or it has bounced, they've already gotten their money and we can't verify who they are and who picked it," Holley said.
Holley says they want to educate citizens about these types of crimes and warns that anytime a person is sent a check before they do any work, that's a huge red flag.
Holley says to also be cautious if the job requirements change. Often times, these criminals will suddenly decide they no longer need your help but tell the victim to keep some of the money while sending the rest back. That money ends up coming out of the victim's pocket.
Finally, Holley says to only pursue job offers when you can meet the employer.