Scammers are not typically intelligent, creative, or wise people. They’re just opportunistic, and either devoid of a conscience or skilled at making excuses for themselves as to why humiliating people and taking their money is justified. Most “new” scams are nothing more than old scams adapted to new tragedies or problems people face, and the most commonly seen scams in Utica today are no exception.
The “Anyone willing to work a night shift?” scam has been around since at least 2018. It may have gone by other names, but in mid to late March 2022, the scam…with that exact title or line in the post… became a trend among the scammers targeting Utica residents online.
Some of these posts are obviously scams. The rest of the post says things like “Pack candy boxes at home for Amazone. The pay is $980 per week.” Others may be vague enough to look like legitimate, local shift work or scheduled online work to someone whose screen has not yet been flooded with them.
Like all work scams, it plays on both our material needs and our emotions.
Suppose you are struggling financially. The basic expenses simply are not being met before the available cash runs out anymore. You need to pay for your internet and cell phone in order to keep working, but by the time the rest of the bills are paid, there is no money left. Or maybe you have some old credit card debt rising faster than you can pay it down.
Or maybe you’re okay, but just okay. You can meet your basic expenses. You sleep in a safe, clean home, bathe, and eat every day, as long as you stick to Dollar Tree for your personal hygiene and cleaning products, and hot dogs instead of steak. You could really use a little something extra, even if it’s just the means to take the kids out for ice cream once in a while this summer, or a little care package for yourself.
All the ideas from the couponing, money saving, and “getting free stuff” YouTube channels, TikToks, blogs, and Facebook groups have been exhausted. You need some additional cash, and you don’t have the time in your day left to “just go out and get another job.” The one or two you have already takes it all up.
Browsing through your online groups one evening, you keep seeing an ad asking local residents if they are willing to work an overnight shift. The ad is typically accompanied by a stock photo of happy people working. This looks like an opportunity to work a single shift locally, doing something like cleaning up after an event, striking the stage following a local performing arts production, or preparing an area or business for an event the next day.
Once you read the ad, you learn that the job is not local, but an online job working for Amazon. This is even better. You haven’t joined Uber or DoorDash or GrubHub because you cannot spare the time away from home. But this will fit into your schedule beautifully. You will still be here, but you’ll be earning that extra cash, at $20.00 per hour.
Except the cash…and the work…will not be there. As soon as you are “hired” you will either be asked to purchase a $200 “enrollment kit,” install company software that enables you to clock in and out and get your paycheck, or both. The “fee” will only line the scammer’s pocket. The job and your money will be gone. Any software they ask you to install, or links they tell you to open, will contain malware that allows the scammer access to your computer. One you install what may look like a time clock, or click on that link that looks like it only offers you some paperwork for a new job, you will have granted the scammers access to anything you have access to when you open your desktop or laptop computer. They may drain your bank account, use your credit cards, or even open up new accounts in your name. All of this will be done without your consent or awareness.
Legitimate job openings for corporations like Amazon will be posted on the company’s official website. They may also be listed on Indeed dot com, but major corporations do not send random people out into cyberspace to beg others to work for them.
While it would be great if there were something we could do to earn a steady wage that is also easy, flexible, and guaranteed, that type of work simply does not exist. You can reach out to local business people and build a client base for your home based business and schedule your hours whenever you want. But that is going to take time and effort, and the income will not be guaranteed. Going the gig work route is going to leave you dependent on demand. And of course, getting a side job or day job that is actually a night job will require you to stick to a schedule and do regular shift work. Beware of anyone promising otherwise.
And if you were already aware of this scam and knew not to fall for it, remember that everyone is not in the exact same situation as you. Someone else may be more vulnerable due to extreme stress, illness, isolation, or other problems in their lives. Even if they’re that friend who just plain never stops and thinks anything through, they don’t deserve to have their money stolen by scammers. Look out for each other.
by Jess Szabo
originally published on Artist Cafe Utica
by Jess Szabo originally published on Artist Cafe Utica www.artistcafeutica.com