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September 18, 2013
For Immediate Release: September 17, 2013
Contact: Tim Feeley, AG’s Office, 626-8887; Julie Rabinowitz, Department of Labor, 621-5009
AG Mills and Commissioner Paquette warn job seekers to report companies that require new hires to purchase pre-paid debit cards before their first day on the job
AUGUSTA—Attorney General Janet T. Mills and Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette are warning job seekers about a scam that aims to steal money via pre-paid debit cards. A person claiming to be hiring laborers has been telling candidates that they need to purchase a $60 “Green Dot” pre-paid debit card from Wal-mart before their first day of work.
The person calling the job seekers claims to be working for “Wipe-Out Windows and Construction” from Charleston, S.C., and says his name is Craig Thompson. This appears to be a made-up name, and a similar scam has been targeting people in other states using the name Brandon Williams.
The scammer, through false postings on the Maine Job Bank that use a legitimate Florida business’ name, is advertising for workers. When job seekers accept the referral from the job bank, the scammer contacts the worker, tells them they are hired and then tells them to purchase the debit card and that he will meet the workers at the local CareerCenter.
The scammer explains to the job seeker that the money on the card is to cover the expense of a uniform and training, which is a clear violation of both state and federal employment law. Once the worker has the card and contacts the scammer, the scammer asks the job seeker to read the card number over the phone. The scammer does not show up to the prearranged meetings at the CareerCenter, and the job seekers then find that the debit card account has been wiped out.
Commissioner Paquette stated, “We have more than 7,000 jobs on the Maine Job Bank, and all of those employers have been vetted by the department. This appears to be a rare but serious case where someone is impersonating a legitimate business. We have notified the U.S. Department of Labor and other states so that the national Job Bank referral system can be on alert for similar postings to protect job seekers.”
Attorney General Mills added, “Even if the employer actually appeared and gave these people work, the requested payment is illegal. Anyone looking for a job should know that they cannot be asked for this kind of payment to secure employment. If they are asked, it should be a big red flag that something is wrong.”
Commissioner Paquette noted, “Job seekers should continue to register with the Maine Job Bank and continue to use legitimate online job banks to search for work, because that is the twenty-first century method of job hunting. However, if people are asking you to pay money to get a job or do not bother with a face-to-face interview, that should raise concerns. If you have questions about a job posting, do not hesitate to contact the Department of Labor or your local CareerCenter to find out more information about that job or to report a suspected violation of employment law.”
To protect themselves from being a victim people should:
- Never feel pressured to make a payment to secure employment – it is illegal for an employer to ask for this. They cannot require an employee to cover costs associated with training, paperwork or uniforms. - Ask to meet a potential employer in person before agreeing to work for them – any legitimate employer would want to meet you, too. - Never give out your personal information over the phone to an unverified person.
Employees concerned about their rights on the job or in the hiring process should call the Maine Department of Labor at 207-623-7900 (TTY users dial Maine Relay 711). The Wage and Hour Division of the Bureau of Labor Standards provides information about the rights of employees at http://www.maine.gov/labor/labor_laws/index.html .
The Maine Job Bank, free for both employers and job seekers, is available at https://gateway.maine.gov/dol/mjb/jobseeker/jobseekerwelcome.aspx . Job seekers looking for additional assistance in finding their next job or training should visit their local CareerCenter or go to http://www.mainecareercenter.com/ .