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Employment text message scam is on the rise in Indiana

Offers may include money to wrap vehicle
Scammers are using employment as a way to get your personal or financial information.
Posted at 6:00 AM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 21:37:12-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Many people in Central Indiana are searching for a better job or a way to bring in some extra income.

The Better Business Bureau says scammers are taking advantage of that fact, and that’s why employment scams are on the rise.

Wrapping a vehicle with a company’s name and logo is a popular way to advertise these days.

That’s why Sheran Hyde, of Crown Point, didn’t think much of it when she got a text message — an offer, supposedly from Nestle, to earn $500 a week of she put a decal sticker on her vehicle.

As a mother of three, Hyde found the employment appealing.

"Because of the pandemic a lot of us have lost jobs and income so it's like a fast money type thing,” said Hyde. “We can use the money."

Hyde said she clicked on the link in the text message and filled out her information.

A man reached out to her via text and told her they were sending a $2,500 check, and that she could keep $500 and use the rest to wrap her vehicle.

"He kept texting me asking me if I received the check when I was going to deposit the check, this was like every hour on the hour, checking in to see if I got it, cashed it or anything,” said Hyde. "At this point I started getting skeptical. I went online and I started Googling, and I'm seeing other people saying they had the same thing happened to them."

WRTV photographer Brad also got a similar text message from “Mountain Dew” offering $800 weekly to wrap his car with the company’s logo.

The Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana says the messages are an employment scam.

"We're actually seeing an increase in this,” said BBB President Tim Maniscalo.

Maniscalo said the scammers’ check is bogus, but before you realize it, they’ll ask you to send them money via check or wire transfer.

"If you have to send money to a third party, that's a real tip off that it's probably a scam,” said Maniscalo. “First of all, if something just comes out of the blue unsolicited, that's a red flag to begin with. Second, if someone sends you a check to a 3rd party, that is also a red flag that there’s probably something wrong."

WRTV Investigates reached out to PepsiCo about the offer from Mountain Dew.

“Unfortunately, we are aware of this scam, which exploits consumer brands in order to prey on consumers,” read a statement from PepsiCo. “Sadly, we have seen these scams on some of our own brands as well as many of our competitors. Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in this predatory behavior during the pandemic.”

PepsiCo says it is actively monitoring social media for fraudulent offers and working with social media platforms on “take down” requests.

“We encourage consumers to contact us directly if they ever receive an offer like this,” read a statement from PepsiCo. “We also encourage consumers who reach out to flag these scams as suspicious activity on social media platforms, report to their mobile carrier (when received directly via SMS) and report them to the Federal Trade Commission.”

If you’ve been the victim of an employment scam, report it to the BBB Scam Tracker.

Your experience can help others to recognize suspicious behavior and stop scammers in their tracks, according to the BBB.

Hyde reported the employment scam to the BBB.

"When I found out it wasn't legit, I said I wanted to alert everyone to what is going on,” said Hyde.

Even though she didn’t lose any money, Hyde is worried others could fall for it.

"I want people to know that if you do not know the number, do not respond, do not click on the link,” said Hyde. “Even if you don't come through with cashing the check, they still have your number on file.”

How to Avoid Employment Scams according to the BBB

  • Do your research. Before you say yes to any job, research the company that wants to hire you. Does the company have a professional website and legitimate contact information? Search for what others are saying about their experience with this company.
  • Beware of red flags. Scammers often send emails with many typos and grammatical errors. They offer to hire you without an interview and even pay you before you’ve done any work. None of these are behaviors of a reputable business.
  • Never send money to strangers. Never send funds in the form of cash, checks, gift cards or wire transfers to someone you don’t know or haven’t met. No legitimate company will ask you to pay them to get a job.

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