ORLANDO, Fla. — With so many people left unemployed by COVID-19, scammers are taking aim at now desperate folks with work at home job offers, and they are hiring right now.
A local woman just lost $2,000 before she discovered it was a fake job.
Action 9 consumer investigator Todd Ulrich took a look at which online jobs are the greatest risk and how to find real remote jobs that pay.
Paychecks are hard to come by during the pandemic. That’s why Stacy-Jo Barnes felt an online job offer was a blessing.
“It sounded very attractive because they were paying a certain amount every month,” Barnes said.
The company, Cosmic Couriers in New Jersey. The job involved inspecting packages that she would reship to customers around the country.
“I would inspect the packages and make sure they weren’t defective and they weren’t broken, and I would reship them,” she said.
Barnes shared pictures of items she reshipped, including laptops, iPhones, even silver and gold coin collections.
She had signed a company contract that paid her $2,200 a month.
But after 30 days working at home, no paycheck, and Cosmic Couriers didn’t return her calls.
“I feel violated,” she said. “I really feel violated because they promised we had an ongoing agreement.”
She found other complaints online, and the BBB, now listed Cosmic Couriers as a job scam, now finding easy targets since so many folks are sidelined by the virus.
Even before COVID-19, 10,000 people a year told the Federal Trade Commission they were burned by work at home scams too. And according to the BBB, the typical victim lost $1,200.
The FTC and Florida’s Attorney General said complaints are on the rise.
Consumer experts warn against any job listed as work at home, an immediate opening, and requires small advance fees to cover start-up expenses.
"They lure you in that way so they’re not asking for a big fee and that seems reasonable but that’s
a red flag," said Brie Reynolds with flexjobs.com. “A legitimate company would do a traditional job search.”
You could lose more than money. Some work at home scams steal your identity.
And the reship from home jobs can involve helping criminals move stolen goods across state lines.
Cosmic Couriers website seems tied to Russia and it’s been shut down.
Barnes has contacted local police.
Before responding to any work at home offer, verify the company on your own. And if it needs your money first, you know there’s a scammer on the other end.
There are also online resources like flexjobs.com that verify real remote jobs and tell you how to apply.