CHICAGO (WLS) -- Babysitter or nanny scams are targeting college students who are trying to make extra cash around the holidays. Instead, they're being left with thousands of dollars in debt.
Rebecca Holgreen uses care.com and similar websites to find work as a nanny. The student said she's had several legitimate experiences and then she answered an email from people telling her, "All I need is your total honesty and sincerity."
"These people actually texted me saying they got my phone number off care. com and that I was a good candidate for the position," Holgreen said.
They claimed to be a family moving to Chicago from Australia. They sent her a check for $1,850 and instructed her to quickly withdraw the money to buy groceries and other items for their home so it was ready for their arrival. They said she could keep $400 for herself and then put the rest on Green Dot Money Pack cards. They asked her to then email them the account numbers to those cards.
"This job came out of nowhere, so I was like, 'Oh, my gosh!'" she said.
The scammers got the cash and stopped answering Holgreen's calls and texts.
"I was so heartbroken when I realized it was all fake," she said.
Holgreen said the check, which looks legitimate, cleared after 24 hours. But then it bounced. Now her account is negative.
"It can take up to 30 days for the bank to notify you that the check has bounced. People need to understand that just because it cleared in 3 days does not mean it is a valid check," Steve Bernas, Better Business Bureau president, said.
Bernas said college students are getting swindled through similar schemes daily.
"Somebody gives you a check and they say wire me back the difference. . . It is not a good check. It is a scam," Bernas said.
Care.com said the people in question had been removed from the site, and the company had contacted Holgreen. The company also said it warns users by implementing "resources on how to avoid consumer fraud scams, a monitored messaging system and fraud detection tools, to create a safer environment."
Chase Bank, where Holgreen has an account, said consumers should never deposit a check from a person or business they don't know. If suspicious, ask the teller to inspect the check.
"The account is still negative, I haven't been able to pay it off or anything," Holgreen said.
She filed a police report, but Holgreen is technically on the hook for penalties and money overdrawn in her account. A Chase Bank spokesman said the company will look into her case.
Illinois Attorney General warns consumers that they can be held liable by their banks, and, in rare cases, face criminal charges for depositing a fraudulent check.
Full Chase Statement:
It is unfortunate that this individual was taken in by these criminals. We attempt to identify and prevent fraudulent transactions, for instance, our tellers are trained to review checks and if they suspect fraud they immediately call our internal fraud department. However, the individual is responsible for the transaction. As we discussed on the phone, the best tips we can give to prevent being taken in by a scam is to realize that 1) if it sounds too good, too easy to be true, then it is, and 2) tell your banker that you're not sure about the check and ask them to investigate.
Media & Community Engagement
Full Care.com statement:
Care.com is an online marketplace that allows families to meet and connect with providers of caregiving services. Overpayment scams are often targeted at caregivers and we continuously research processes to improve the safety of our site for our members. To that end, we have implemented a number of features, including resources on how to avoid consumer fraud scams, a monitored messaging system and fraud detection tools, to create a safer environment. Equally as important to the measures we have instituted is for families and caregivers to exercise their own appropriate steps in safety. In this particular instance, we did communicate with Ms. Holgreen and the individual in question had already been removed from our site.
Nancy Bushkin | Vice President, Public Relations & Corporate Communications