GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A job applicant in West Michigan wants to warn others after calling an imposter's bluff: beware of scam job postings online, including sites like Indeed.
"When I received an email back from another person, that was kind of a red flag right there," said Tammy Heibel, a recent applicant who recognized the red flags before it was too late.
Mid-May Heibel tells FOX 17 she excitedly applied to a job posting on Indeed.com, saying it looked legitimate for an "office clerk" at Founders Brewing Company. Five days after she applied, Heibel says communication between someone posing as a Founders' representative didn't feel right.
"The phone number actually refers back to California," she said. "[Mail] came from Florida, and they said they were in Canada."
Then she received a $2,930 check from "Interiors by Design LLC" located at 12501 Prosperity Drive, Silver Spring, MD. Heibel showed the envelope to FOX 17: it was mailed from Florida with the company name written as "Sephora." Heibel refrained from cashing the check or giving out any further information.
Finally, an imposter emailed Heibel asking her to cash the check, take $200 for herself and run errands, including: figuring the price of "10 Playstation 4 Pro consoles" and "10 Flat screen 32” LED HDTV for a Children’s Home (Any TV brand will be fine just find me a good deal/pricing)."
"I just kind of chuckled to myself because, like I’m really that gullible?" Heibel laughed sarcasticly. "I’m applying for a pretty significant job that requires a lot of responsibility. That’s why I came to you because I wanted to warn everybody else, because obviously they are out there and they’re still targeting people and now it’s on Indeed."
The Better Business Bureau of West Michigan calls this a common scam, noting that while these job search sites are credible, anyone can post jobs. Experts warn applicants to look at the finer details of the posting, check a company's website, and make sure the email addresses or any contact of who you're speaking with is legitimate.
"It really is the gift and the curse of the internet: this particular job listing could be seen by thousands of people," said John Masterson, BBB of West Michigan's Director of Marketing. "And really for a scammer to make a pay day, they need just one person to fall for it."
Masterson warns applicants: beware of any "employer" asking for, or offering, money upfront before any work is performed or before hire.
"Whenever you’re looking for a job, make sure it goes through a reputable company," said Masterson. "Understand that people are trying to misrepresent themselves. Again, look for those little details: like spelling, spoofed emails, weird payments, asking for money upfront for things like training or a uniform even."
Founders Brewing Company Communications Manager Francesca Jasinksi tells FOX 17:
"It’s unfortunate anytime a company’s intellectual property is improperly taken and used by third parties, which is what happened to us in this instance. Immediately upon finding out about the posting, we notified Indeed and asked for its removal. To be clear, Founders played no role in this fictitious job posting and any inquiries concerning information related to the poster or any applicants should be directed to the platform on which the activity was hosted and occurred, Indeed. We hope for the sake of all employers that sites like Indeed strive to improve their diligence over job postings to ensure that those posting positions are who they say they are."