Job Seekers in the Valley lose hundreds in employment scam - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Job Seekers in the Valley lose hundreds in employment scam

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Several people in the Valley have fallen victim to an employment scam that collectively sucked hundreds of dollars out of their pockets.

According to the U.S. Departmentof Labor, 11.8 million people are out of work across the country.

African American men are among the highest group searching for a job.

Here in Columbus, they are also the majority of the victims so desperate to find work, they agreed to pay for it.      

Jeryl Carter, 32, lost his job at the Golden Foundry two months ago; ever since, he's been doing odd jobs to keep his family afloat.

"It's difficult being out of work because bills don't stop," Carter says.

The father of four says he was excited to learn from a friend about a position as a laborer for a company called Rapid Communications.

"The referral came from the Georgia Department of Labor. They were hiring and paying a good amount of money. Everybody took the referral as being something solid," says Carter.

He called the number provided and a woman answered the phone.

"Her name was Ashley. She took all [my] information down. It seemed like an over the phone interview. Then, a guy named Eric Webb called," says Carter.

Carter says Webb told him he needed to send $61.95 to the company by the end of the week.

"They said it was going to be for your uniform safety class and work ID," Carter explains.

They were told to load the money onto a Green Dot Money Pak. It costs about five bucks at any store. Once the money is added on to the card, anyone with the 14 digit code on the back has access to the money.

"Some of those guys were down to their last few [dollars]," says Carter.

Although Carter did not send off any money, he says he showed up to Charter Communications on Warren Williams Road in Columbus with at least 15 other people believing they were starting their first day of work.

Rapid Communications is posing as an outside contractor for Charter Communications.

Carter was told he would lay cables and fencing for the company.

"As a result of the economy being the way it has been, there has become somewhat of a nationwide problem with this," Communication Director Sam Hall with the Georgia Department of Labor says.

Hall says the fraudulent job was posted on their website between May 31 and June 7, 2013.

During those eight days online, Hall says 19 people were referred through the Department of Labor.

However, someone posted the information on Facebook so it's possible several others fell for the scams well.

Eight people filed police reports with the Columbus Police Department claiming they sent money to the company using Green Dot Money Pak's.

They say they trusted the company because it came through a federal program.

"The person that was handling [the employer] had two conversations with the employer; one was a female the other was a male. They knew all of the right answers," Hall states.

Hall explains employers are thoroughly checked by GDOL before a job is promoted; however, some fraudulent jobs do fall through the cracks.

Now, the GDOL says they're taking steps to help those victimized.

"Our legal staff here in Atlanta has contacted the company Green Dot to see what's to be done about helping the few people that provided the money to Rapid Communications the possibility of getting their money back."

Fortunately Carter didn't fall for the scam completely but he did give the scam artist all his personal information including his social security number.

Hall says they've also reached out to everyone and instruct them on how to protect their identity now that most of them have given out their personal information.

To avoid being a victim ofemployment scams follow these tips:

  • Never send money. Jobs are supposed to pay you, not the other way around.
  • Do your research. Check for company websites and information online.
  • Never give out your personal information. It can be used to steal your identity.

If you a victim of this scam, according to The Georgia Department of Labor, Green Dot is asking you to contact them. https://www.greendot.com/greendot/account/contact-us.

Copyright 2013 WTVM. All rights reserved.

 

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