The Story I Didn’t Want to Tell: I Was Scammed
Last month, I applied for a dream job for a mobile app marketing company in Silicon Valley that was advertised on We Work Remotely, a popular job board website for digital nomads.
Less than 24 hours hours later, I interviewed with the company. Of the near-hundred interviews I’ve been invited to throughout my professional career, none of them compared to this. The interview was conducted via Google Hangout CHAT, not video (red flag #1). Instead of going with my gut that screamed SOMETHING AIN’T RIGHT HERE GIRL, I talked myself into believing maybe this is how they conduct their interviews to see how well a candidate responds in written form ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
The next day, I was offered what I thought was the perfect job via email. The email appeared to have been sent from one of the co-founders of the company, extending a warm and fuzzy ass welcome to their team (red flag #2). My job was to maintain relationships with stakeholders and manage customer accounts. I could work from anywhere in the world, it paid just under $10,000 per month, all of my travel expenses to and from headquarters would’ve been covered, and I had the option to work part-time whenever I wanted.
Before I get in too deep with this story, I want to mention that an offer like this isn’t unusual. I have a couple of friends in tech that have remote jobs making six-figures.
Anyway, I was sent two PDF documents. One was an offer letter and the other was a full description of the company. Both documents had to be signed and dated and “emailed back immediately”, per their request (red flag #3).
At this point you would’ve thought I’d caught on by now, but nah…
I signed both documents and replied to the email with them attached. I was asked to “report online tomorrow via Google Hangout for the first day of training”.
What I said in my head: WHO THE FUCK CONDUCTS A JOB TRAINING ON GOOGLE HANGOUT CHAT? WHY CAN’T I TALK TO YOU MOTHER FUCKERS THROUGH VIDEO?!
What I actually said: Ok.
The next day and the following three weekdays, I reported online at 8 AM SHARP for my fake ass training on Google Hangout chat. Here’s where shit got interesting.
When they offered the job, I was told that I’d have a check mailed to me that will be “used to purchase work equipment” (red flag #4). On my fourth training day, I received a check in the amount of $4,810. I was instructed to DEPOSIT — NOT CASH — the check into my account via ATM or bank app. Because I bank with a credit union that doesn’t have the capability to deposit checks through an ATM nor app, my only option was to deposit it by going inside of the bank.
The bank teller looked at me, then looked at the check, then looked back at me and finally said, “Ms. Thomas, this check looks fake.”
Not one to be fucked with, I went full-angry-Black-woman-mode on her ass. The neck poppin’, finger wavin’, eye rollin’, hair swingin’ Black ass woman I know to hide well and I only unleash her when necessary. Telling me a check that I’m requesting to have deposit looks fake is the equivalent of calling me a scammer.
Scared, she got the manager involved.
I met with the manager privately and told him about this “wonderful new job with a company in Silicon Valley and…” before I could finish, he explained how he’s heard the same story a thousand times. He looked at the check and admitted that it looked fake, but he would take it up to the fraud department to make sure.
Five minutes later, the fraud department called back and confirmed that the $4,810 check was indeed fake.
And my spirit was crushed >_<. It meant that I didn’t have the perfect job like I thought I did.
After I was able to process everything, I emailed We Work Remotely’s support team and reported six (6 !!!!!!) fake jobs they advertised on their website since that incident. I’m able to spot them easily now, which is a good thing I guess
Below is my email to them:
I’m a digital nomad who visits the site daily for new jobs that are posted. With the amount of traffic you receive monthly (according to Similar Web, over 750K visitors), there should be a way to verify jobs before they’re posted on the site.
Last week, I applied for a job post that I saw on your website with a company who are posing as COMPANY HERE and they “hired” me a day after the interview. Yesterday, they’d sent a fraudulent check via FedEx and I was instructed to deposit — not cash — the check into an ATM. I was almost scammed out of $4,810 (to be exact) if my bank didn’t double check to with their fraud department first. This could have resulted in federal charges brought against me.
I don’t know your process but as a faithful visitor of the site, there’s got to be a way to verify jobs before they’re posted. I don’t want this to happen to fellow remote workers.
We Work Remotely’s response:
Thanks for the feedback, Melody. It’s important to us that We Work Remotely is a safe site to find jobs online, so we are working on this.
In their defense, they’ve gotten a lot better with verifying jobs before they’re published. Still, I wish they would’ve caught this beforehand. If *I* was scammed, someone who’s been online since dial-up and AOL CD-ROM’s, it can happen to almost anyone.
I decided to share this story to help digital nomads be more vigilant since you can’t rely on job boards to always do their due diligence. Because the whole shit was an embarrassment to me, I waited four weeks before I finally decided to share this story. I’m thankful to have supportive family and friends who had my back, but I still had to put my pride aside — something I hold on to dearly :).
Update: I did not fill out any paper work that asked for my SSN or bank account information. Only name and address.