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BBB Trends: Employment scams top the list for 2018, representing a $50 billion drain on the economy

By Sandra Guile
Better Business Bureau

Marketplace scams represent a $50 billion drain on the U.S. economy, robbing consumers and legitimate businesses alike. Scams have a negative impact on one in four households and one in five individuals each year. These thieves masquerade as trusted brands, erode consumer confidence in the marketplace and often hide on the internet.

Last year, people in the U.S. and Canada reported over 50,559 scams to BBB’s Scam Tracker with a new scam reported to Scam Tracker every 10 minutes. Using the collected data and analyzing it with a proprietary BBB Scam Index which reviewed exposure, susceptibility, and monetary loss. The findings showed that employment scams jumped to the number one riskiest form of fraud over last year’s top-ranked online purchase scam, which fell to number two.

The increase was due in large part to Amazon being mentioned in the news frequently. The company was the 6th most impostered organization, and most of the reports that came in were employment scams. In 2017, Amazon, a BBB Accredited Business, wasn’t even mentioned in the top 15 most impersonated brands.

An employment scam is when a job offer comes with high pay and options to work remotely and flexible hours. However, in order to get the job, a candidate is required to complete forms, oftentimes online, that require personal, sensitive, information and in some cases purchase office equipment on their own as part of the employment process from a fake check that is sent to the candidate ahead of time.

Individuals committing the scams are typically opportunists. Whatever story is featured in the news or the hot topic discussed on social media, they will see it as an opening to pose as a recognizable and respected organization or brand, then come up with a scheme. In this case, they created ads for jobs that didn’t exist using the names of companies without the company’s knowledge. Or, the imposter will utilize sites such as LinkedIn and pull information from the website to carry out their scheme.

The Internal Revenue Service is the leading impersonated organization, and other government agencies together rank second. Other leading brands that scammers impersonate include Publishers Clearing House, Microsoft, and Apple.

According to BBB’s Scamtracker Report, Tech-Savvy Scammers Work to Con More Victims: 2018 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, the ten riskiest scams reported were: employment, online purchase, fake checks/money orders, home improvement, advance fee loans, romance, tech support, investment, travel/vacation, and government grant.

The continued fight against scams is critical to limiting the financial and emotional damage to victims. By continuing to report robocalls, phishing attempts, and social media imposters to BBB’s Scam Tracker it can only help restore consumer confidence in honest businesses. For more information on specific scams and tips on how to avoid them, go to scamtracker.org. For a full copy of the report, click here.

Sandra Guile is the Public Relations Specialist for BBB. She promotes BBB’s message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, media relations, press releases, web content, and other written materials. Your BBB is located at 1 East 4th Street Suite 600 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 – to reach the office, call (513) 421-3015.

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