Internet job sites are the perfect place to pick up extra work during the summer. That's what Cleburne teacher Amy Gallagher hoped to do when she looked for a job on Care.com.
"I was so happy because I got a response a week later from a Nancy in Florida who was moving with her mother to this area," said Gallagher.
She'd be taking care of Nancy's elderly mother. After exchanging several emails, Nancy hired her. The job was perfect.
"She said 'I'm going to pay you above average, $25 an hour. And you can work full-time in the summer and part-time during the school year,'" Nancy remembers the email reading. She got more emails from her new employer who also claimed to be deaf. The emails were frequent and friendly as the two talked about their families and lives. Then Nancy wrote that her mother needed a wheelchair.
"She said, 'I'm gonna overnight you a check for the wheelchair, and then I want you to take the balance of that cash and deposit it into your account for the first week's pay,'" Gallagher recalls Nancy requesting.
Gallagher did as instructed and cashed the check at her credit union in Cleburne, keeping $400. Then she deposited $2,400 cash at another bank to buy the wheelchair.
"About three days later, I got a call from my credit union and they said it was returned insufficient," said Gallagher. She filed a police report, and the detective confirmed what she already knew.
"He said, 'It looks like you've been scammed,'" said Nancy, the friendly Floridian turned Texas transplant, was likely just a crook with an email account.
"I'm intelligent, I'm educated, but I believed every word," said Gallagher. Now her credit union wants its money back, and Gallagher is on the hook for $2,400.
NBC5 Responds contacted the Vice President of Operations Gallagher's credit union who declined to comment. But a spokesman for the American Bankers Association (ABA) says you are ultimately responsible for any check you cash or deposit.
It addresses babysitting scams on its website. Care.com, along with the ABA, emailed the Responds team with the following advice for consumers:
- Use the monitored messaging system on Care.com when communicating with an employer. It allows Care.com to monitor exchanges for fraudulent activity.
- Have an in-person interview in a public place and ask to see ID.
- Never accept jobs that require you to facilitate money transfers through your account.