You think you landed your dream job but how do you know the person contacting you online is who they say they are?

A News4 I-Team investigation found criminals targeting job seekers and tricking them and they're using a popular social media website to do it.

Kara Leist thought she landed her dream job. A starting salary of $40 an hour, full benefits and a contract where she could leave at any time.

“I got an email back from their supposed HR department saying I’d like to interview you. When are you available?” said Leist.

The position was for a graphic designer with Advance Financial.

But there was a problem. The job was real, however the person contacting her wasn't really with the company.

“In many instances they promised them things we don't have,” said Advance Financial CEP Tina Hodges.

Hodges told the I-Team she knows of at least a dozen people who were tricked into thinking they got with her company.

“They were jobs that we had, and they were jobs that we had open at that time. But the person they're communicating with is not from our company,” said Hodges.

Here’s how it works.

The criminals use websites like LinkedIn to see which companies are advertising for certain jobs. They create a fake profile using real names and real positions of employees. Then the scammers look for people applying for jobs and contact them.

In this case, the scammers say you need to buy thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment in order to get the job. Equipment such as laptops, printers and computer software.

“You were given a check and then you were told to cash the check and use that money to buy equipment,” said Daniel Broekhuizen who is the Director of Investigations for Advance Financial.

The scammer then asks you to send them the confirmation email and changes the shipping address. They get the equipment and disappear.

The News4 I-Team also learned the check they send you in order to buy the equipment is fake.

"It's just wrong. To mislead people and to take their money, I mean you're stealing their money,” said Hodges.

In an email to the I-Team, a spokesperson for LinkedIn said they make it clear on the website every member must be who they say they are.

However, when it comes to verifying people who sign up, LinkedIn said it confirms a person has a verified phone number or email. Adding, “fake profiles aren't tolerated, and we take action when we find them or they're reported to us."

Hodges said “it’s way too easy” for people to misrepresent themselves on these websites.

“I have people on LinkedIn who approach me all the time who are clearly frauds,” said Leist.

Here’s how to tell if a job is real.

  • Call the company and confirm the person works there.
  • Request an in-person interview if possible and never cash a check unless you verify it's real first.

“You’re taking people who are looking for jobs, honestly, and you're trying to steal from honest people, “said Leist.

Leist caught on before she lost any money, but she wants this to be a warning for others who may not be so lucky.

LinkedIn has the following links on their website meant to protect jobseekers.

You can report fraud here:

https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/37822/recognizing-and-reporting-spam-inappropriate-and-abusive-content?lang=en

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Lindsay Bramson joined News4 in June 2016 as an investigative reporter. She currently specializes in consumer issues.

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