Job ad fronts for scam targeting unemployed

February 1, 2011 7:01:23 PM PST
A Bay Area woman fell victim to a scam targeting the unemployed. With millions of people struggling to find work, it is a growing problem -- con artists are going after job seekers.

This is an old scam that has found a huge new pool of victims -- the unemployed. They should be warned scammers are out there taking advantage of the fact many folks are desperate to find work and they're taking what little money these job seekers have left.

Karina Jennings has been unemployed and searching for work for nearly a year now, all the while struggling to support her two year old son.

"It's been tough, I'm willing and ready to try anything," said Karina.

So Karina got pretty excited when she found a ad in the San Francisco Chronicle. It was an opening for a flight attendant, offering full training and an excellent salary package.

"I immediately jumped on it and got excited, 'Oh, something different?flight attendant,'" said Karina.

Karina called the number in the ad and with that seemingly harmless act, she took her first step into a big trap.

"Everything sounded great, the benefits, the money," said Karina.

The man on the phone told Karina she'd be a stewardess on a chartered jet, carrying wealthy passengers to private cruise ships. She'd earn up to $1,150 per week and be home each night by 6 p.m. So did she want to fly to Miami for an interview?

"I said, 'Wow, that sounds cool. Definitely, I'd would be very interested,'" said Karina.

With that, she took the second step into the trap. The man said she could buy her own plane ticket to Miami, or he would buy the ticket for her, at a reduced price of $372. Karina found the cheapest fares were well over $1,400.

"So I said, 'You know what? Let me just go ahead and call back and ask him what was the other option one more time,'" said Karina.

That was mistake number three. Karina agreed to let the man buy her plane ticket. He told her to wire him half the fare, $186. The man said she'd be reimbursed when she arrived in Miami.

"Gail Maxwell would meet me at the gate when I got there, she'd have a black suit on and as soon as I shook her hand, she'd put the reimbursement of the money that I just wired in my hand," said Karina.

Karina went to the nearest Western Union office and wired the $186 to Orlando, Florida. And yes, that was her final mistake. Later, when she checked the flight that was supposedly purchased for her, she found, there was no such flight. There was no such charter jet company. There was no such job.

"I had been officially, first time scammed and it hurt," said Karina.

Karina went from elation over believing she had finally landed a job, to the depths of realing she'd been conned.

"It really upset my husband and I," said Inez Jennings, Karina's mother.

Inez couldn't stand the idea that someone stole money from her struggling daughter and her grandson.

"I said to my daughter, 'We really need to call Seven On Your Side," said Inez.

They did call us, not hoping to get her money back, but hoping to warn other job seekers who might be lured into the same trap.

"That $200 hurt. I just wanted to make sure it was red flagged and tell Seven On Your Side," said Karina.

One rule of thumb I just can't say enough is never, never wire money to somebody you don't know. If anyone asks you to wire money whether it is to collect a prize, get a job, or bail your grandson out of jail, just assume it is a scam.

The San Francisco Chronicle declined to comment on this story however, we did see that the phony ad was no longer running in the paper.