ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A St. Augustine man said he has lost thousands of dollars after accepting a job through a popular recruiting website.
He went to St. Johns County sheriff's deputies last week, saying he had been a victim of fraud.
The man, who did not want his name used, told News4Jax that he accepted a job two months ago with an Atlanta-based construction company named Blue Companies after finding a job opening on ZipRecruiter.
"They said I was going to be hired for setting up an office in Jacksonville," he said.
The man said he received an envelope in the mail from the company that was marked with a Canadian address, not an Atlanta one.
"I opened it up and it had a letter saying, 'Welcome to the company. You’re hired by Blue Companies. We’re setting up our office in Jacksonville and we’re giving you this (check) to start buying the office supplies so you can go ahead and start setting up the office down there,'" he said.
According to a St. Johns County Sheriff's Office report, the man said he deposited the $4,750 check into his bank account and was then told to withdraw the amount and deposit the cash to an employee's account at another bank. The man said he then received a second check in the mail, also for $4,750.
"I held onto that one. I didn’t deposit that one because I knew something wasn’t right," he said. "Then about a week and a half, two weeks later, the bank calls me and tells me that I had deposited a counterfeit check."
The bank told the man he had to pay back the bank the money from that bogus check.
"It made me feel really upset that I had fell into that," the man said.
Now, the new job and thousands of dollars the man thought he had are gone.
On Tuesday, News4Jax called the Blue Companies number listed on its website, as well as a number the man called to speak with someone he thought was an employee, but did not get a response.
A spokesperson for ZipRecruiter sent News4Jax the following statement:
As an employment marketplace that connects job seekers and employers, we are acutely aware that there are bad actors out there who, whether on job boards or on other platforms for internet commerce and communication, seek to use the cloak of anonymity provided by technology to take advantage of others. And while we are pleased that our growth has enabled a dramatic increase in both the number of people we can help and the quality of our service, we are also aware that we have become more visible not only to legitimate participants but also to bad actors.
"That is why we have implemented -- and continue to refine and improve -- our systems to address this important issue.
- On the front end, we use proprietary detection software and have stringent client onboarding processes to vet potential posters and deny access for those who fail to pass our screens.
- On the back end, we re-run our detection software on job listings as they're posted and have customer service representatives available seven days a week to investigate and weed out suspicious posts.
"Still, no system is perfect, no matter how sophisticated or well-intentioned. That is why we take steps to educate job seekers about how to spot suspicious activity and encourage reporting of all such activity to us so we can investigate and take prompt remedial action. Any such reports should be sent to our dedicated email address: email@example.com."
ZipRecruiter also offered some ways for job seekers to protect themselves from potential scams:
- Report suspicious emails.
- Be wary of anyone requesting you transfer funds to a different account or writing a check on your account and sending it to them.
- Check with your bank to make sure any check is legitimate before you attempt to cash it.
- If you discover that a check is fraudulent, file a report with your local police department.
The Sheriff's Office also encouraged job seekers to be skeptical, saying it's a red flag if a potential employer sends you a large check in the mail before you start working.