Fraudsters rare taking advantage of desperate job seekers with fake job scams.
One such job seeker is Helen Barker, a 29 year old diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Helen wanted to work in the care sector and answered what she thought was a legitimate job advert.
However, despite being posted on a popular recruitment site the job turned out to be a scam.
After filling out an application form Helen was told she needed to pay for a DBS check and further training.
“They were asking for £250 for the training,” she said. “It all seemed above board and I thought it must be company policy.
“I felt boxed in and thought I had to do it to get a job.”
She had already been tricked into sending over a copy of her passport, now she was being harassed for bank details.
“They were convincing, but I managed to step out of my desperation for a minute, and knew I should think about it first,” she said.
Helen realised it was a scam after talking with close friends and never gave any money to the scammers.
She has since gained employment managing volunteers and is quick to warn anyone away from the dangers of job boards.
According to Helen if anyone gets “pushy”, be suspicious. Especially if you have mental health issues.
Mental health and new fake job scams
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute report that people with mental health conditions are three times more likely to fall prey to scammers.
23% of those with mental health problems were duped by an online scam compared to 8% of the general population.
Martin Lewis, founder of the institute, said vulnerable people were “easy prey” for online criminals, especially during the pandemic.
“The UK already faced an epidemic of scams, but now lockdown has accelerated it, especially online,” he said.
“These vicious criminals are exploiting the fact that more people are stuck at home, spending more time online, and potentially struggling with their mental health – all of which increase the risk of falling victim to these schemes.”
Covid also saw many trading standards officers, who normally fight fraud, being transferred to Covid related work.
The Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers said that many officers had been moved to local authority work. This was to ensure businesses were complying with Covid restrictions.
“Rogue traders, scammers and those who sell dangerous products haven’t stopped because of Covid-19, but the reality is that many trading standards officers are being pulled away from their usual work tackling criminal activity,” said Steve Ruddy, who chairs the association.
“It is right that as a country we all pull together to combat this pandemic, but the danger of leaving some of society’s most vulnerable people exposed to criminals is something that must be addressed.”
For advice or to report a scam visit the Action Fraud website.