Officials say an international theft ring is targeting the unemployed and those looking to make a few extra bucks.
Philly resident Iretha Clarke says she was a recent victim of the scam. Clarke says she needed a job after she borrowed money to go back to school.
“It was time for me to get a job and use my skills to pay some of the loans back,” Clarke said.
Clarke searched online and within a few days, a company called “PostalBenefits.com” contacted her, claiming a “shipping coordinator” position was open.
“They gave me a website and that’s how I kept in touch with them,” Clarke said.
Clarke says she received instructions on how to receive and send packages out of the country through the mail with postage labels supplied by the company. But while Clarke did her part, she never received any payment.
“I asked them what was going on with the payday,” Clarke said. “They said they weren’t receiving the packages.”
Finally Clarke says, a postal inspector showed up at her home.
“I just thought I was going to jail,” Clarke said.
The inspector told her that what she believed was a legit company was actually an international theft ring.
“It’s a work at home scam and a lot of people seem to be falling for it,” said Postal Inspector Reginald Wade.
Wade says over the past few months, the fake website duped dozens of victims in Philly and even more nationwide. Wade says the thieves are based in Russia and China and purchase merchandise with stolen credit cards. They then trick victims into sending it overseas.
Experts advise jobseekers to always make sure a company has a real address you can actually view on Google. They also say to visit the office, if possible.
“They know the kind of people they’re going for,” Clarke said. “People who are really short on money.”