Woman warns the public about work-from-home scams that might seem "normal" during the pandemic

Work-from-home scams

Like many Canadians, Mellanie Buckley is looking for work in a way that makes her feel safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Buckley thought she found the perfect opportunity when she spotted a job posting for a data entry position by an Alberta woman in many local Kelowna Facebook groups.

"You'd be able to tend to your kids (or pets)," the post read. "Temporary and permanent positions available ($22/hr)."

The position was for a marketing company called Adecco Group; a company with offices all over Canada, including one in Vancouver.

The mother-of-two thought this was her chance to finally make a decent living from home. After working as a landscaper for 20 years, she took a break due to multiple injuries and thought this would be a great way to earn an income while feeling safe at home during the pandemic.

With Alberta being fairly close to Kelowna, Buckley thought the job post was legitimate. She also personally knows someone who does business with Adecco Group and was able to confirm they are a legitimate company.

When she contacted the Alberta woman about the job opportunity, she was directed to the hiring manager, who said he would be conducting the interview by texting on Google's chat program called Hangouts.

Although it seemed odd, Buckley says, "It's the new normal."

Buckley says the hiring manager's questions began normally, with him asking standard interview questions.

The interview went on for almost three hours until finally, she got the job. That was when the banking questions began.

"He asked me to take a screenshot of my mobile deposit limit or cash back limit so we know how much to issue you to avoid holds," she said.

The hiring manager told her he needed the information so that he could send her a cheque to deposit for her new computer equipment – something she would need for the job.

"No company would ever ask you that. At this point he was just trying to get more banking information out of me. That's when I told him this was weird and it seems like a scam," Buckley says.

"As soon as I said that, he stopped texting me," she adds. When she went back to Facebook, the Alberta woman's account was nowhere to be found – likely a fake account. However, it's still a live account and searchable on Facebook. It is also actively receiving posts from other people interested in data entry jobs.

Castanet asked the Kelowna RCMP if they have seen a spike in work-from-home scams in the past year.

"We haven't seen an increase in the reports of this type of scam here in the Central Okanagan," explains Cpl. Jocelyn Noseworthy, Media Relations Officer. "But it makes sense during a time where so many people are not able to find work in a traditional capacity that scammers would attempt this method of obtaining information."

Adecco Group is a well-known staffing agency with over 50 years of experience in the industry – and they're frustrated with the scam, too.

"Unfortunately, we’ve recently become aware of this; we contacted the police and frustratingly, they won’t act on our complaint. They want to hear from the victims of the fraud directly," said Christine Marinho, Marketing Director for The Adecco Group.

"We do post jobs on our Facebook pages and advertise our postings on social media," she adds. "But those jobs will always point back to apply to our website and it’s important that candidates be aware of the email addresses of those that are contacting them. All our emails end with @adecco.ca."

As for Buckley, she says this incident was a lesson learned and one she wants to share with the community. Although she saw the red flags, someone more vulnerable and less experienced may not.

For more information on how to protect yourself from any scams, Cpl. Noseworthy encourages the public to click here.

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