COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Alex Fraser was in need of work during the pandemic. Like a lot of job seekers, she started her search online, and found a listing with LHC Group, a home health care services company, on LinkedIn.
Fraser applied, and was contacted by someone who claimed to be a company recruiter — Heather LaBarr.
“The first interactions, we were IM-ing through this process, because she kept having computer problems,” Fraser said. That form of communication continued for three weeks.
“It was never a phone call, and it was never a Zoom meeting,” Fraser said. “It was always an IM.”
Still, she pursued the position, and was told she got the job.
She received paperwork on company letterhead and was told a check was coming through FedEx, for $7,300, to set up her home office.
But the money never arrived, so Fraser called the delivery service to find out why.
“And they said, ‘Well, it’s being sent back for fraud.’ What?” Fraser said.
She then tracked down a phone number for LHC Group headquarters and made a call. She got through to human resources… and finally spoke with the real Heather LaBarr.
“And she was the one who said, ‘You don’t really have a job,’” Fraser said.
LaBarr told Fraser she was one of more than 50 people reported across the company, all victims of a job scam.
“’They’ve gotten into the computer and gotten our letterhead for work,’” Fraser said, quoting LaBarr. “’That’s why you have a legit letter, but you don’t have a legit job.’”
The scammers even took on LaBarr’s identity.
“My heart fell into my stomach,” Fraser said.
According to the Better Business Bureau, job scams are on the rise during the pandemic, because companies are interviewing and hiring online.
Fake listings can be found on well-known websites, like LinkedIn, so, it’s important to investigate their legitimacy by doing your own search of the company.
“If I followed the instructions that they sent me to do, they would have my signature, my bank account number, and they could empty my account in a heartbeat,” Fraser said. “And that’s probably exactly what they’ve been doing to people.”
Fraser said she reported the incident to authorities, and to LinkedIn, and now wants other job seekers to do their homework before they apply.
“I need to do something about this other than feel bad, and other people need to not feel bad that it happened to them, and they need to know that this is a real thing and people are doing this,” Fraser said.
The real LHC Group said it also reported the incident to authorities, adding that they are fully cooperating “to help minimize these occurrences and bring these bad actors to justice.”
Fraser is resuming her job search, but is doing so much more cautiously, with some of the information Better Call 4 provided from the BBB.
And if you’re job hunting, the Better Business Bureau offers a few tips you may want to consider.