The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning people about increasing reports of the nanny scam. People looking for nanny or caregiving jobs often go to legitimate websites such as care.com to look for nanny and baby sitting job opportunities, but even legitimate websites will have scammers on them. In a common version of this scam, the job applicant answering the advertisement is told that they need to buy supplies or equipment and are sent a check to deposit and then send money to vendors approved by the person hiring the nanny.
In another version of the scam, the prospective nanny is told to use the money to buy groceries and other items for the family’s home, keep some of the check sent for herself and exchange the rest for gift cards. The nanny is then told to email the account numbers for the cards to the family purportedly hiring the nanny.
You may be able to guess how these stories end. Of course, the checks are counterfeit although they appear to have been cleared by the bank before the nannies make their purchases and send the rest of the money back to the scammers so ultimately scam victims lose their own money from their own bank account.
This is just another variation on the scam whereby the victim, for whatever purposes receives a check in excess of the amount to paid to the victim and asks the victim to send back the difference. There are a number of tell tale signs to look for and steps to take to avoid this type of scam. First, you need to remember that although a check may appear to have been cleared by your bank after a few days, all you are really getting is “provisional credit” and when the counterfeit check eventually bounces, the credit is taken back from your account and you are left having sent your own money to the scammer.
It is also important to note that merely because you are dealing with a legitimate website such as care.com, no website is able to completely guarantee that every posting on it is legitimate. Sending excess funds back to someone using gift cards is another tell tale sign of a possible scam. Scammers use these cards because they are all but impossible to trace and once the information from the card has been provided to the scammer, the victim is out of luck. The prudent thing to do when being paid by a check is to wait until the check has fully cleared before you can feel confident that the funds actually are in your account. This may take a few weeks.
You should also do an online search of the person attempting to hire you. If it is a scam, you may well find complaints of others who have been victimized by the scam.
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