Whenever there is a large scale disaster, there will be con artists, or just plan scammers, that will try to take advantage. The BP oil spill is no exception. Scammers are trying to take advantage of the desperation of unemployed workers and the desire to help out in the Gulf.
The Federal Trade Commission is warning that there have been several scams related to the disaster in the Gulf. The most recent trend has been fake job ads posted in print and online that can result in fraud or identity theft. The FTC is reporting that the scams have been conducted through e-mail, websites, fliers, mailings, door-to-door and telephone calls.
Often the scammers will claim that there is a job lined up but they need to you pay some kind of upfront fee. For example, they will say that you have already been hired, but you need to pay for a background check, training or certification. Be extremely wary of anything that promises a positive result, if only you pay something up front. Nearly all fraud scams work this way.
For example, several hundred members of the Yakama Nation tribe in Washington received an offer to work in the Gulf cleanup for $40 an hour. Several quit and supplied the company with their names, addresses and social security numbers. The posting turned out to be a fake designed to gain their personal information. The FTC has warned specifically about:
- Guaranteed jobs or guaranteed placements.
- An employer or employment service firm that requires you to pay first.
- Vague offers.
- Requests for financial information.
- Companies that charge you for lists of available jobs.
If you are contacted by someone you think is a con artist, you can file a complaint with the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 866-720-5721 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov or 877-FTC-HELP.