Personal Assistant Scam

A personal assistant scam typically involves a perpetrator putting out an ad to hire a personal assistant. Then, when the perpetrator purportedly hires the personal assistant, the assistant is asked to buy something with their own money with the promise to be repaid. The perpetuator then disappears after receiving the goods.

Author: Brad Nakase, Attorney

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Personal Assistant Scam Example

It often starts with a job post or email containing a job offer to be a personal assistant. The phishing email claims to offer a job as a personal assistant for a high hourly wage.

For example, Elise has been looking for a new job in Los Angeles for a number of weeks now, but she has yet to have any luck in securing a new position. Frustrated, she browses Google for new postings, and she comes across a personal assistant position that looks promising. One thing that catches her eye, however, is one of the job’s tasks: as personal assistant, she is supposed to send money to Saudi Arabia. Suspicious, Elise looks for a contact person listed with the posting. She finds the name ‘Bob Jones’, and proceeds to type this name into Google along with the job posting. Elise quickly discovers numerous discussions on Reddit and Quora about this job posting being a scam. Relieved, Elise realizes she just saved herself from falling victim to a personal assistant scam and potentially losing thousands of dollars.

What Is a Personal Assistant Scam?

For millions of working Americans, few employment opportunities are more attractive than the option of working from home. There is an increasing number of jobs that can be done from the comfort of one’s own home, but with their increasing popularity, it can be difficult to figure out which postings are scams and which ones offer legitimate employment. There are a lot of scams that come in the guise of a job posting for a personal assistant position. It can certainly catch one’s attention: the offer of employment and a job with an attractive description seems like a fantastic opportunity. But how can a job applicant know if the posting is legitimate or a scam?

A personal assistant scam is when a purported employer posts an opportunity for ‘clients’ to transfer money to businessmen and women, as well as other companies, around the globe. In fact, the job may sound real, even going so far as to list job tasks as any other posting for personal assistant would do. In this case, a personal assistant may run errands, buy gifts, and schedule appointments for clients. However, there are some red flags that job applicants should be aware of before accepting a position as a personal assistant.

What Are the Red Flags of a Personal Assistant Scam?

A job applicant should be wary of red flags when looking at job opportunities, such as those involving being a personal assistant. When an individual is aware of the signs to look for, it is much easier identifying real opportunities from fake ones. The following are some of the common signs that indicate a job listing is fake or a scam:

  • Large amounts of money: An individual should be wary of offers of obscenely large amounts of money that do not correspond with the type of job being posted, or its tasks.

  • A person who offers to send a check with money that one did not earn: It is important to never accept a check from an unknown sender. When an individual deposits an unknown check in their account, the funds return to the scammer’s bank account, which results in the individual being responsible for significant fees and paying the bank back for the fake check.

  • Job offers that involve foreign countries: Sometimes, a scammer will post that a job requires forwarding money to companies or banks outside the United States.

  • The job listing does not have the name of the employer obviously stated: Real job opportunities come from legitimate people or companies with credentials who are looking to hire an employee or a contractor. The position is probably a scam if it does not include the employer’s name or the name of the company.

  • Fake credentials: If the job posting does include a contact person, then one should perform a Google search to see if the person’s information appears online and is connected to a real person. If the search results in a dead end, then it is clear the opportunity is a scam, and the person is made-up. An individual can conduct a search for the person’s name by typing their name followed by ‘personal assistant.’ If the job posting is a scam, then there may be reports on the internet from others who have fallen for the scam or otherwise identified it.

  • Immediate response: A legitimate potential employer needs time to read one’s resume and contact an individual for an interview. If an individual fills out an application and gets a quick response with the promise of employment, then he or she is likely facing a scam.

Are There Real Work From Home Opportunities?

There are plenty of legitimate work-from-home opportunities, but they can be difficult to find. An individual can easily identify the difference in the application process for a real job. This is because the application will generally ask for professional references, a portfolio of one’s previous work, and potentially a sample or demonstration of one’s skills. The employer will also ask about one’s work history or a resume of their experiences. The employer will also need time to review one’s application, whether this means days or weeks. The application should result in an interview over the phone or via video-chat. This interview should be conducted with a real person. If none of these legitimate methods of screening occur, then the job posting is likely a scam and the job not real.

If an individual has fallen victim to a personal assistant scam, he or she may require legal help. An experienced Los Angeles employment lawyer can help an individual identify the scam to assist them in getting their money back. That said, many scams are hard to trace, meaning victims may unfortunately lose thousands of dollars. The best way to protect oneself from scams like this is to review the signs of a fake job posting and know what to look for. Knowledge is power.

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