St. Johns County woman warns job seekers after losing nearly $7K to scam

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — A St. Johns County woman said she was scammed out of nearly $7,000 by a phony job posting online.

Tara Hall has been hunting for a job every day, but it hasn’t been easy.

“Everything is very competitive,” Hall said.

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When Hall found a job posting as a senior project manager that could let her work from her home in St. Johns County, she said it was right up her alley.

“The job description was for a senior project manager, making approximately $100,000 a year with, you know all the benefits, paid time off, insurance,” Hall said. “It looked very attractive to me.”

Hall said she applied and, within days, started the interview process with a woman claiming to be with human resources.

Shortly thereafter, she said the company sent her a contract for the job and daily training exercises. She said the man she believed to be her boss was giving her great feedback.

“He buttered me right up,” Hall said. “He kept saying how wonderfully I was doing in my daily training exercises, you know, that I received 100% every day.”

Last Friday, she said her boss asked her for a favor — to purchase four laptops and ship them to California overnight so that special software could be installed.

“There was a group of us competing for this position, so I wanted to make a great impression,” Hall said.

Hall said after sending the laptops, she realized it was a scam.

“I lost $6,700,” Hall said. “That is a lot of money.”

Action News Jax tried calling the company, but the phone was disconnected. The website was also taken down.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many people like Hall are responding to job ads online. Hall said scammers are taking advantage of people’s desperation.

“It’s sickening,” Hall said. “It just makes me very, very sad.”

Hall said it was a sophisticated scam and has a warning for others.

“If you feel like something’s off, if you feel like, you know, you get a sudden pit in your stomach, just don’t do it,” Hall said.

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Hall hopes to find a job soon to put this bad experience behind her.

The Federal Trade Commission reported the volume of reports about income scams reached the highest levels on record in the second quarter of 2020. The FTC stated people reported losing nearly $150 million to income scams in the first nine months of 2020 alone.

The FTC stated people should keep these tips in mind to avoid income scams:

  • Take your time. Avoid high-pressure sales pitches that require you to get involved now or risk losing out.
  • Be skeptical about “success stories” and testimonials. Glowing stories could be fake, and online reviews may have come from made-up profiles.
  • Don’t bank on a “cleared” check. If you’re told to send some of the money or buy gift cards, you can bet it’s a fake even if you see the money in your account.
  • Do your research. Search online for the company’s name plus words like “review,” “scam” or “complaint.”