Kassie Goodroad loves her job.
As a graphic designer for Northstar Media and Kanabec Publications, she works decent hours and enjoys her coworkers. Those coworkers like her right back for her rigorous work ethic and bubbly, always upbeat personality. She lives up to the “good” in her name.
Every job has its downfalls, though, and a major one for Goodroad is the drive to Mora from her home in North Branch, especially during weeks like last week, where she had to plan her daily tasks around an impending “snowmageddon.”
Then one day a couple of weeks ago, a friend showed her a job on LinkedIn that Goodroad qualified for. Although she wasn’t actively looking for work, she did occasionally scroll through job listings, “as one does,” she said.
“I read the post, and it matched all the other posts that I read,” Good-road said. “Nothing seemed weird about it. In the beginning.”
The position her friend showed her would allow her to work from home and would pay her $20 more per hour than she is currently earning.
It seemed, she thought, too good to be true. She wasn’t wrong.
With the uploading of her resume, the answering of a group of pertinent interview questions, and a few clicks of her computer mouse, Goodroad learned she had been hired.
“In the job posting it said that the company was urgently hiring, and they wanted this process to be fast, so I didn’t really think anything about that,” she said. “Everything I was told just sounded so legit.”
As part of her new job, Goodroad was told she would receive new computer equipment, hardware and software. In an email offer from the company, Grand River Rubber and Plastics out of Ashtabula, Ohio, she was told, “Please note that, on acceptance of this employment offer, the following equipment will be delivered to you to set up your home office/workspace, the funds for the purchase of the equipment will be made available to you prior to purchase and delivery.”
The list of equipment she would receive included a MacBook Pro and a LaserJet printer. Once her at-home workspace was set up, she would have a video conference with several company representatives.
Everything seemed aboveboard. Goodroad had Googled Grand River Rubber and Plastics, and it’s a real company. The individuals she engaged with work for the company. She even found the person she was emailing on Facebook and TikTok.
“He’s got a thousand friends on Facebook, and on TikTok, it’s the same guy,” she said. “It says he works there (Grand River) but the TikTok guy does video game streaming. The only way I knew they are the same person is because they use the same picture.”
A nagging feeling
But something nagged at her, specifically the discrepancy in the email between the “equipment will be delivered to you” and “the funds for the purchase of the equipment will be made available to you.” A line farther down in the email said, “After signing this offer letter, the check to pay for the equipment listed above for your workspace will be mailed out to you, then you will begin training as soon as you take delivery of the equipment.”
Wait a minute, she thought. Didn’t it say earlier in the email that the new equipment would be delivered to her? Why would I need funds?
She fired off an email to the hiring manager asking for clarification.
“I didn’t think scam instantly, because I didn’t know that (sending funds for new equipment) was a thing that was done,” she said.
As she waited for a reply to her questions, she gave her supervisor her two-week notice and told her co-workers that she had found a new position.
However, as she described the work she would be doing and the quick process of getting hired, a coworker pointed out that Goodroad’s predecessor at Kanabec Publications had found similar a job on LinkedIn, and the hiring company sent her a check to cash to purchase new equipment.
When the woman deposited the check to buy equipment, the bank flagged the check as fraudulent. In addition, she had provided the company with her Social Security number. It took weeks to get her information squared away with her bank and major credit bureaus.
Goodroad didn’t hear back from the company after she sent the clarification email and she didn’t receive the expected check to buy equipment.
She dug deeper and found that the job posting had been removed from LinkedIn and that other people had been hired for the exact same position in the exact same company.
“I’m happy to share that I’m starting a new position as Graphic Designer at Grand River Rubber & Plastics,” wrote Sylvia Gierasimczuk of Chicago on Feb. 14. A day later she wrote, “Graphic Designer position at Grand River Rubber and Plastics is a scam!”
Luckily, Goodroad realized she was being scammed before she handed over any banking information or her Social Security number.
Coworkers encouraged her to call the Kanabec County Sheriff’s Office and make a report. While the sheriff’s office can do little in these cases, Sheriff Brian Smith said that calling was the right thing to do.
“I always tell people you should always report it,” Smith said. “Even if you’ve caught it and haven’t been victimized, it’s good for us to know that these scams are out there and how they are being perpetrated so we can warn the public.”
Smith said that in Kanabec County, most scams target the elderly. He credits this to their trusting nature.
“They tend to be less suspicious because they come from a generation that is much more trusting,” he said. “A lot of times they are desperate for many different things and they are much easier to scare, so they’re targeted.
“But all ages are susceptible,” he added.
“Nothing is free, ever,” Smith said, “and you didn’t win something that you didn’t apply for. Those kinds of things people tend to jump on. But those offers are just not real, and people get taken advantage of. They see things online and they click on links — fantastic things that most people would think ‘That can’t be.’ And it can’t be because it’s not. Those are the messages that I try to repeat often.
He also encourages people to talk to friends and family.
“If you’re seeing something and you think, ‘that’s kind of weird,’ talk to somebody about it. Ask a family member or a close friend. Sometimes it’s just good to get another set of eyes on something. The other person may look at if from a different perspective.”
Goodroad thinks she did everything right. Aside from possibly moving too quickly through the hiring process —which, notably, the company said was urgent — she didn’t make many mistakes. She is telling her story to warn others that this can happen to them, even if they are tech savvy.
She and Sheriff Smith also have words of advice for people looking for new jobs or other online opportunities:
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Warnings of job Scams
Be suspicious of any agency that charges upfront fees.
Get it in writing. Thoroughly review the contract.
Research the company. Google can help you find out about any organization.
Be wary of companies that respond to your online resume, but provide little information.
Don’t be rushed! The process Good-road went through, from inquiring about the job to her getting hired, took only five days. Don’t be blinded by claims that you may miss out on a given job or opportunity.
Source: Minnesota Attorney General’s office
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