(WHTM) – Millions of Americans have ‘side hustle’ these days, whether it’s driving people around, delivering food, renting a room or caring for the pet someone’s company. Most people can probably find a part-time job that suits them perfectly, but some are too perfect and can turn out to be expensive scams.
Julie Bright had just posted her CV online when she received an email inviting her to become a secret shopper reviewing stores.
“I opened this card in the mail, and I remember seeing this cashier’s check to Julie Bright, and it had instructions on being a secret wholesale shopper,” Bright said.
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The company sent her a check for over $1,000 to buy gift cards and verify gift card sales at popular stores like Walgreens or CVS without the cashier knowing who or what she was. was doing.
The check in the mail, the requests to purchase gift cards and the secrecy are all red flags that Bright was about to fall for one of the many side scams now targeting workers.
Sherrod DeGrippo is with Proofpoint, a cybersecurity company. She says people should be wary of any job that sends a check before they start work and asks them to spend or send some of it.
“This check is fraudulent, but due to the way the banking system works, our victim doesn’t know that the check won’t be fully cashed until they send that extra money back,” DeGrippo said.
She says fake hustles can include secret shopper work, personal assistant jobs, placing ads on your car, and modeling without an audition.
Bright was lucky – the check she bounced before she started buying gift cards. “Lesson learned, I will never do that again,” she said.
Remember that legitimate companies don’t pay you until you start working so you don’t waste your money.