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Contact 2: Teen nearly scammed looking for babysitting work

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - A local teenager looking for a babysitting job came very close to becoming the victim of scam artists. Fortunately, her parents were there to intercept the tempting payment.

The teenager went to Care.com, an established website where caregivers connect with clients. The teen’s mother, Coleen Carroll, said the site worked for other friends of the family, so she allowed her daughter to sign up.

“She wanted to babysit or nanny, or find a way to bring income or find some extra money by taking care of kids,” Carroll said.

Soon after signing up, Carroll’s daughter received emails from two different women with similar stories. Both wanted to hire her.

“They were moving into the St. Louis area. They had one child. They’re very busy and could she go shopping, pick up some toys, pick up some extra clothes, pick up some other things and have them at the ready,” Carroll said.

Two checks arrived in the mail to help cover expenses. One check was for $2,700, signed by one individual; and the second check for $1,970, signed by a different person. The teenager was supposed to send the bulk of the money back to the sender or a third party. But Carroll said she put a stop to that.

“Fortunately for me, I share the same account with her, so I’m able to access things,” she said. “So I saw the check post. The woman at Bank of America said, ‘I’m going to tell you right now this check won’t clear.’”

Care.com has an A- rating with the Better Business Bureau. In a statement, Care.com acknowledged internet job sites are often targeted for overpayment scams. Knowing this, Care.com said it’s always working to improve member safety.

“We have implemented a number of features, including: proactive email to caregivers on our site with tips on how to spot and avoid scams; resources on how to avoid consumer fraud scams; a monitored messaging system for all communications; and fraud detection tools,” a site representative said.

Unfortunately, the scammers began communicating with the teen via email and not through the monitored messaging system on Care.com. Carroll said anyone using job sites should pay attention to the red flags.

“I’m a mother of three daughters. I would never hire someone over an email or a text message to care for my child,” she said. “Never would I make that decision like that.”

If you use any job website, check it out with the Better Business Bureau. We've posted the tips from Care.com below. And call us if you have a consumer issue. The Call for Action Contact 2 Hotline is open Monday through Thursday, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. That toll free number is 800-782-2222.

Care.com TIPS
1. Use the Monitored Messaging System on Care.com when communicating with a potential employer. Why? Because it protects your privacy and we can then monitor all electronic exchanges for fraudulent activity, enhancing our ability to remove fraudsters from the site.

2. Be vigilant. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Never accept payment by check in advance or for an amount which is greater than what you agreed upon and never wire money back to someone who pays you by check. This is a common Internet job scam, which occasionally targets sites offering the services of babysitters, nannies and other care providers.

3. Have an In-Person Interview. It's always important to meet with the family or individual before you accept a job. Make sure your interview is in a public place and ask to see an ID so you can confirm who you're meeting with. If a prospective employer claims to be relocating to your area and therefore is unavailable to meet for an interview, delay accepting the job – or any payment – until the individual is in your area and can meet for the in-person interview. And again, never accept advance payment from a family or individual without having first met them and gone through the interview process.

4. Talk to Care.com. Contact us immediately if you think a job post or message is spam, a scam or suggestive. Simply click the “Report” flag located in all messages and job posts. We take reports from our members very seriously and work hard to respond quickly. When Care.com becomes aware of information regarding a member or prospective member that we believe makes them a potential danger to our community, we promptly remove them from our site and notify anyone with whom we know they’ve had contact.