Rip-Off Alert: Quick action helped college student avoid nanny scam

Baby-sitter or nanny scams target college students trying to make some extra cash. (KSNV)

Baby-sitter or nanny scams target college students trying to make some extra cash.

Caitriona McOsker is a Los Angeles law school student who has also works as a nanny. Her resume is posted on childcare sites, so she was interested when she got an email from a family looking for help.

“It said, ‘I'm moving to the U.S. I'm from Ireland,” she said. “My sister is looking for a nanny for her kids, and I thought it was a great opportunity.”

The email went to McOsker’s personal email address, which was unusual. She is used to corresponding through the job sites; she assumed they got it off her resume.

"We want you to get our house in order, our affairs in order, before we get we here,” the client requested. “Get the apartment set up."

Both sides emailed back and forth for more than a month.

"They sent a check for about $4,000, and they said, ‘Deposit this check and send the rest to our financial person with cash.’” McOsker said

She made the deposit on her lunch break and then wired the remaining money. When she returned to work and mentioned the story to a friend, he thought it sounded like a scam.

"I'm stunned, I'm shocked, I can't believe that happened,” she said. “I'm like, I've lost thousands of dollars. I don't have thousands of dollars."

They looked up how to call the wire service. Because she acted quickly, they were able to stop payment.

"Ten minutes later, I got a call from a man — not an Irish woman — saying, ‘You stopped the money. What happened,’” McOsker said.

Postal inspectors say these scams take many forms such as work-at-home opportunities and online auction site transactions. The best advice is to proceed with caution.

“Ask specific questions,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Ricky Vida. “Ask for details on what their employment is and what is expected of them.”

Postal inspectors also emphasize the importance of keeping a record of all dialogue — emails, texts and phone calls.

Some job sites even contain monitored messaging systems and fraud detection tools to help you avoid a scam.

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