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Email scam targets job match system through N.H. Employment Security

The New Hampshire attorney general’s office is investigating a scam that is targeting job seekers registered in the state’s Department of Employment Security job-match program.

Four cases of the alleged scam have been reported thus far. Rich Lavers, deputy commissioner of New Hampshire Employment Security, said the scammer has been posing as two real employers in the local area. He declined to name those companies, saying they were also victimized by this fraud.

“They are posing as legitimate New Hampshire companies, New Hampshire companies that may have utilized the job match system before but weren’t currently registered in the system,” Lavers said.

About 3,000 employers are registered in the job-match system, Lavers said, and about 15,000 job seekers used the system in the last 90 days. In the suspicious cases, Lavers said a fictitious hiring manager has reached out to job seekers in the system with an opportunity for employment.

“They’ve tailored their search for people that were looking for work from home or data-entry type jobs,” Lavers said.

The scammer then told the job seeker he or she needed to buy additional software to be hired, and asked for personal bank account information in order to wire money for that purchase, Lavers said.

“Fortunately, there has not been one single job seeker who this time around has had any financial loss, because they’ve been guarded enough to ask the right questions and to do due diligence to make sure to check on the legitimacy of the employer,” Lavers said.

A similar breach of the job match system happened in 2010, Senior Assistant Attorney General James Boffetti said, and a couple of people did lose money before they recognized the scam. The attorney general’s office also investigated that case, but Boffetti said the trail went cold when the scammer transferred the money out of the country.

“If it’s too good to be true, it usually is,” he said. “This is not so much to scare people but to educate people.”

The Department of Employment Security is alerting each individual and employer registered in the job match system and the state has also increased its safeguards on that database by requiring more detailed checks for employers trying to sign up, Lavers said.

While the scammer might have accessed contact information for registered job seekers, Lavers said he does not believe they have obtained anyone’s Social Security number, date of birth or financial information. He said it is unlikely that the investigators will be able to track the origin of the scam.

“A lot of times with these folks, you’re chasing ghosts,” Lavers said.

Anyone with concerns about suspicious activity or looking for more information about this scam can contact the Consumer Protection Bureau of the attorney general’s office at 1-888-468-4454 or New Hampshire Employment Security at 1-800-852-3400.

In a press release, Senior Assistant Attorney General James Boffetti advised those at risk in this scam and other email scams of several tips to avoid becoming a victim:

∎ Do not open any unsolicited emails or attachments if they are not from a familiar or trusted source, or if they contain suspicious subject lines or no subject line at all, even if they are from a recognized sender.

∎ Beware of emails that link to a website that lacks details about who is running a company, where it is based or does not list a phone number for that company.

∎ Never provide any personal information such as your social security number or date of birth, and never provide any banking information without verifying the person with whom you are communicating.

∎ Never deposit suspicious or unexpected funds into your account.

∎ Never wire funds from strangers. Make sure you know the person very well before sending them money through a wire service like Western Union or MoneyGram.

∎ Call or check with your local New Hampshire Works office if anyone claims to be “partnering” with or affiliated with the state’s job-match system.

“If people follow that advice, they would go along way to protecting themselves,” Boffetti said.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

Doesn't this mean there's an informational leak somewhere in the system? The fact the deputy commissioner "doesn't think" anyone's SSN info has been compromised doesn't provide a lot of comfort.

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