Tuesday, April 5, 2016

BBB Warns of Shady job offer targets area college students

Burnsville, Minnesota – April 5, 2016 –Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) has received the first local report about an employment scam targeting college students nationwide. This scheme first came to the attention of BBB of Cleveland last fall, when they began receiving reports from concerned college students about possible employment opportunities from questionable entities such as Geneve Leasing Company, Worldwide Shipping Solutions and HYDROCK Inc LLC, which is the entity a University of Minnesota student recently reported has been in touch with them about a suspect job offer. 

The U of M student recognized the posting from HYDROCK Inc LLC as problematic and some online research led him to a press release issued by BBB of Cleveland last November. A representative from that Better Business Bureau reports that in addition to the report from our region, they’ve received calls about this same scam from Ohio State University, Arkansas Tech and Arkansas State just in the last few weeks. BBB notes there is a legitimate company called Hydrock; however, they are located in England and are not associated with these questionable job offers.

“Many college students are looking for work to bring in money while they earn their degrees and others are looking for their first post-graduate job,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “Fraudsters, unfortunately, know there’s opportunity for them, as well, which is why it’s vitally important for students to thoroughly research any employment offers they receive.”

Based on information submitted to BBB, a number of University of Minnesota students received emails from HYDROCK Inc. LLC claiming ‘the position will only require 4-6 hours weekly between Mon- Fri.’ The email further states that the position offers flexibility that allows applicants to choose their hours during the day to avoid conflicts between classes or other employment. However, as with most suspect job offers, scant details are offered as to what the position actually entails.

Bogus job offers have been victimizing job seekers for as long as there’s been a job market. Hopeful applicants typically run across these companies while searching for employment online or through unsolicited job offers after posting their resumes on job sites. While some of the scammers concoct business names, others mimic legitimate companies based here in the US or abroad. Addresses typically provided by the bogus companies either do not exist or are valid addresses at which the scammer is not actually located.
People should always be leery of situations where they receive a check upfront, as this is not how legitimate job offers take shape. In particular, avoid situations where you’re asked to deposit a check and send funds back to the ‘employer’ or unknown third-parties. You should not have to pay for an employment opportunity. Job seekers should also watch out for offers to take part in reshipping schemes. Many times, individuals accept these positions not knowing they’re participating in illegal schemes to reship merchandise paid for with stolen credit cards out of the country.  

In some cases, fake employment ads or phony job offers are nothing more than attempts to gather the personal information of job seekers for the purpose of identity theft. You should never provide your Social Security number - or sensitive personal information - to any company until you’ve interviewed with them in person, vetted both the business and the offer thoroughly, and formally accepted the position.
“There are definitely red flags people should be looking for – such as being offered a position without so much as a job interview,” added Badgerow.

Other warning signs of potential employment scams include:
·         The position involves transferring money or reshipping goods
·         The company is or claims to be located in another country
·         The position does not list education or experience requirements
·         The offer promises significant earning potential for little effort
·         Emails contain grammatical and typographical errors
·         Company claims to be in business for many years but their website was only recently created

Job seekers are encouraged to contact BBB in regard to suspect job offers or to research businesses where they’re seeking employment by visiting www.bbb.org or calling 800-646-6222.