A North Texas woman has a warning for job seekers after scammers attempted to use the Texas unemployment website to gain her trust.
Ginger Coleman said she received a text from a purported job recruiter who already knew her name. The introductory text asked, “Is this Ginger Coleman?”
Then the stranger claimed to have been referred by WorkInTexas.com – The Texas Workforce Commission’s unemployment website.
The latest news from around North Texas.
“They knew my name, they had my telephone number, obviously, because it was a text message,” said Coleman.
Coleman said she was immediately suspicious when the only communication occurred over text or online chats.
But at the time, Coleman was looking for work after layoffs during the pandemic. She used WorkInTexas.com job boards as a resource.
Coleman also knew companies weren’t always meeting applicants in person during the pandemic.
“I thought, everybody's moving in a different direction. Technology is really gaining ground. Maybe this is their platform, maybe this is how they initially reach out to people,” said Coleman.
She was offered a job. Another red flag: the job description was vague and the manager let Coleman pick a title from a list.
Coleman then received a check in the mail for work-from-home software and equipment. The instructions said to cash it and then spend the money with the company’s list of vendors.
Coleman, at that point, knew this was a scam.
“In my heart of hearts, I knew it wasn’t right, but I was still hoping that I was wrong,” she explained.
Coleman said she drove to the bank and showed it to a manager who confirmed it wasn’t a good check.
“It's a very good replica of our bank and our checks, but it is not a good check and we would not honor it,” Coleman recalled.
In scams like this, the victim often sends money to the vendor through a cash app, wire transfer or gift card only to later learn the vendor was a scammer and there was no way to reverse the transaction.
Had Coleman followed the instructions and ordered equipment, she would have later learned the original check bounced.
Coleman was right to be skeptical from the beginning.
“I felt compelled to take this through simply because I needed to know how they found me,” said Coleman. “They're using a government entity. This is taking it to another level, as far as I saw.”
A spokesperson from TWC tells NBC 5 Responds it is not aware of any compromises to the WorkInTexas.com system
In a written response, TWC says, “If TWC believes that a person’s information has been compromised, TWC will reach out to the individual. The individual is also responsible for not sharing their personal information with others, including their username, password, PIN number and social security number.”
The TWC added scammers may use public sources like social media to find personal information – including phone numbers and email addresses. Then use that information to contact job seekers while claiming to work for legitimate sources.
Some signs of a job scam include: employment offers without an interview, vague job descriptions and claims that job seekers owe a fee for applying for the job.
If a purported new company is asking you to transfer funds or receive packages for reshipment or take part in any unusual financial transaction, walk away.
As NBC 5 has reported previously, job scams have become more elaborate with scammers spoofing real companies.
They may direct you to a legitimate-looking website. Don’t click on unsolicited links.
Search for the company’s website or contact information independently. Don’t use the contact information provided to you by a stranger.
If you find multiple websites for the same company or the web address is just a few letters off from an actual company website URL, that’s your cue to investigate further.
Coleman said she is generally careful online, “I know not to click on links unless it's somebody that I truly trust. Even then, I'm going to call before I click on it.”
Coleman has since found a new job and a new career, but she wants others to be on guard even if that text message looks like it’s coming from a trusted source.
“If they can be found, I want them to be found. If not, I'd want the public to be very aware of what's going on.”
NBC 5 Responds is committed to researching your concerns and recovering your money. Our goal is to get you answers and, if possible, solutions and resolution. Call us at 844-5RESPND (844-573-7763) or fill out our Customer Complaint form.