Bay Area woman's new job turns out to be Zelle, gift card scam

ByRenee Koury KGO logo
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
Woman's new job is really another Zelle scam
"The next thing he wants to know is if I've ever seen a bitcoin machine..." When the victim said no, the scammer told her to buy Visa gift cards at CVS instead.

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- Scammers continue to find more ways to steal money from their victims using the popular quick-pay app Zelle.

7 On Your Side has reported about bank imposters and fake landlords. Now, a job scam has taken everything from an East Bay viewer -- and she has a warning for others.

Tammy Geyerman of Concord was trying to find a work-at-home job so she could care for her elderly parents. She posted a resume online and got such a tempting offer that she ignored the red flags.

She was so happy to get an offer for a work-at-home job, she jumped at the chance. "He said, 'Oh! Yeah, we're gonna hire you.' I said, 'Oh! Cool.'"

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"I was really excited. I went and told my father and my mother, 'Hey I got a job, we don't have to worry, we're gonna have money, everything's gonna be great," Geyerman continued.

It began with an email from someone called Joseph. He said he'd found her resume online, and he'd be interviewing her.

"But he didn't want to interview the regular way," Geyerman explained.

Instead, it would be via a messaging app.

"I never spoke to him, ever, other than via text. I never spoke to him," she said.

The person typed the questions and displayed a company website.

"I was going to be like Kaiser's advice nurses, help them fill prescriptions..." Geyerman said.

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Then he texted the good news... she was hired! She just needed to buy a computer.

"'And what we're going to do is have my company send you a $1,900 dollar check. You need to print it out, sign it...' 'OK, so this is for the computer and everything else, all the software?' 'Oh, yes...'" Geyerman recounted the conversation.

Geyerman deposited this check into her account.

"And he says, 'OK, now I want you to put this person's name in on your Zelle for your banking app... and I want you to send that person $900 dollars.'"

Geyerman figured the $1,900 check would cover the Zelle transfer, so she sent it.

"Next, he wanted me to use Zelle again, and send him the $1,000," she said.

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Thankfully the bank wouldn't let her transfer another $1,000.

But things didn't end there.

"The next thing he wants to know is if I've ever seen a bitcoin machine..." When she said no, the person told her to buy Visa gift cards at CVS.

And she did.

There is a signature setup on the credit card machine. Geyerman explained: "That says, 'Hey, by the way, you really shouldn't buy these.'"

The sign at CVS warned about gift card scams.

WATCH: Victim of the Bank of America, Zelle scam? Here are your rights

A growing scam targeting Zelle and Bank of America shows how easy it is for hackers to steal your money using those quick payment apps, like Zelle.

"There is a possibility of a new job scam, and I saw it, I thought, 'Oh, no, come on. How ridiculous.' I had never heard of a new job scam," she said.

But that's exactly what it was.

The job was fake. That check was fake.

The bank had to take the $1,900 back out of her account -- and Geyerman's own money went to the fake boss, leaving her account $800 in the red.

She had wanted so badly for the job to be real.

"I was so excited about this job that I didn't listen to that voice inside my head," she said. "Now the bank was emptying my bank account and I had nothing else to live on."

Geyerman now sees she ignored warning signs: a boss she never met, a company that doesn't exist and a check she had to deposit and then send money. The most important lesson: never buy gift cards or send money through Zelle just to get a job.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

Have a question for Michael and the 7 On Your Side team? Fill out the form HERE!

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