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Mystery Shopper, Fake Job Offers Target People Stretched For Cash During Pandemic

Fortunately, the job applicant thought something wasn't right, talked with family members and didn't print any checks.

Don't cash a check, or give bank account information Somehow along the line, the con artist figures out a way to get money from you when you're desperately trying to make money.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's office told me that the AG is beginning to hear reports where scammers ask for bank account information as part of a job offer.

"The obvious concern there is scammers then have access to your finances and can steal your money or potentially use your account for other purposes," said Ryan Jarvi, press secretary for the attorney general.

And there is the old fake check scam. You're sent a check that looks quite authentic but ultimately is fake. Scammers are banking on how the check clearing system works, causing you to think a check is real because the money is available in a few days.

Some scammers say: "As soon as the funds are made available by your bank, withdraw the money" to do your job as a mystery shopper, cover an "accidental overpayment," buy gift cards or follow other steps in the process.

The fake check ultimately will bounce but it may be weeks until you discover that sad fact. And you're out whatever money you wired, spent or put on gift cards.

You can file complaints about job scams with the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. Or the Better Business Bureau's scam tracker at BBB.org/scamtracker.

Given all the pressures that many people are facing, unfortunately, some might take a chance and believe that they've got a real job prospect.

Waggoner, fortunately, spotted another red flag before she was taken for big money.

Why, she wondered, was this job offer somehow also involving a Bitcoin account? Her fiance lost some money after getting hit by some sort of scam where Bitcoin was involved, so both of them were particularly hesitant about that one.

Good thing she didn't fall for it, or else she could have lost up to $6,000 when she deposited that check and it bounced weeks later, leaving her on the hook for the money that was used to buy those gift cards or deposit. The scammers could access the cash on the cards when she handed over the numbers on the cards.

"As soon as I saw Bitcoin, I just ripped it up and threw a million pieces into the garbage can," Waggoner said.

Waggoner says she gets texts every day about some kind of odd job.

"I've been getting these messages ever since this stupid pandemic has been going on," Waggoner said. ___ ABOUT THE WRITER Susan Tompor is the personal finance columnist for the Detroit Free Press.  ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. _____ PHOTO (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194):

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