Nearly three-quarters of people who lose money to employment scams already are in financial crisis, according to The Better Business Bureau.
The new study found those who lose money to such scams do not have enough income to cover monthly bills.
Additionally, more than half of the people, or 53%, targeted by employment scams reported being unemployed at the time of the encounter.
Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau said in a news release employment scams were the number one riskiest scam in 2018 and 2019, according to the BBB Risk Index, which measures exposure, susceptibility and monetary loss based on reports to BBB Scam Tracker.
Only weeks after the release of the latest BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report in early March, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the shut-down of businesses across North America. Hundreds of thousands who lost their jobs began seeking new jobs through online platforms and elsewhere, Horton said.
In response, the Better Business Bureau launched a new research project to better understand how employment scams are perpetrated, who is targeted, the overall impact of the scams, and how to help people avoid losing money to them.
“This research was timely as we found that more than half of scam targets were seeking work-from-home opportunities,” Melisa Lanning Trumpower, executive director of the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, which produced the report, said in the release. “As more people search for flexible employment opportunities following the coronavirus outbreak, they need to know that scammers are out there in force and targeting those most in need.”
The Employment Scams Report examines findings from an April 2020 survey of 10,670 United States and Canadian consumers reporting employment scams to the BBB Scam Tracker.
It reveals 65% of consumers reported their “job offer” was related to becoming a “warehouse redistribution coordinator” or some similar titles involving the reshipment of packages (which often include stolen goods). In many cases, scammers impersonated well-known retailers like Amazon and Walmart to seem legitimate, posting jobs on major online-employment platforms with few prerequisites or requirements.
The report also highlights those most at-risk for employment scams: Students and individuals ages 25-34 were more susceptible and likely to be victimized, while those ages 45-54 and 65-plus reported higher median dollar losses.
In addition, military spouses and veterans were more likely to fall victim than non-military consumers, and reported losing significantly more money to employment scams.
“These critical findings can help guide our scam-prevention outreach to those most vulnerable to these scam types,” Trumpower said. “Employment scams don’t just affect those who lose money. For every victim who lost money, at least one other worked without pay, and yet another lost personal information that could lead to identity theft.”
Those who avoided losing money were much more likely to report previous knowledge of employment scams and tactics (20% compared to 7%).
For tips on how to avoid employment scams, go to BBB.org/EmploymentScams.
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.