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Scammers trolling for victims online

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When a company sends you a check and asks you to deposit it in your account and then wire money elsewhere, it's a good bet the check is fake and you're about to fall victim to a scam. (Source: 3TV) When a company sends you a check and asks you to deposit it in your account and then wire money elsewhere, it's a good bet the check is fake and you're about to fall victim to a scam. (Source: 3TV)
3 On Your Side emailed the scammer and he (or she) replied. (Source: 3TV) 3 On Your Side emailed the scammer and he (or she) replied. (Source: 3TV)

Fran McGee was looking for a job recently and was searching for opportunities to work from home.

"I was looking for part-time or full-time telecommuting working from home, basically doing data entry," she explained.

That in mind, she went online and using a legitimate website called ZipRecruiter, McGee came across a data entry job that sounded just right for her. She said she applied and immediately got a response from a company with an impressive name.

"It's called SX Data Hub, Inc.," McGee said.

A person claiming to be in that company's human resources department emailed McGee and offered her a data-entry job that would pay $40 an hour and allow her to work any hours she wanted.  

It sounded perfect, so she accepted the job offer. Her first assignment? Simply reviewing documents containing names, email addresses and physical addresses found in Hawaii.

It was simple work and for $40 an hour, McGee was happy. 

"I just vested three days into it so approximately six or seven hours," she said.

A few days later the so-called HR person emailed McGee and told her that she needed to buy additional computer equipment in order to continue performing her duties.

"The gentleman had said I needed to purchase a server to work from home to protect the files for their clients," she explained.

McGee said it seemed a little odd, but the company mailed her a check for $2,985 to purchase the equipment.

According to her instructions, McGee was to deposit the check into her account and the using MoneyGram, she was supposed to wire most of the money to another location in order to get the equipment. McGee grew suspicious and contacted her credit union.

"They determined that the check was fraudulent, and they believe it was part of a scam," she said.

RELATED: Beware of counterfeit checks

McGee then realized she almost became a scam victim. There was no computer equipment to buy; there was no job. All of that busywork of reviewing addresses for the company was just a smoke screen.

RELATED: Internet scams continue

The so-called human resources person who hired McGee is actually a scammer who was hoping she would wire him money before her credit union discovered the check was fake.

3 On Your Side emailed the scammer to tell him the gig was up and we actually got a response.

"I am not aware that the paycheck sent by one of our virtual client [sic] s fraudulent. Its [sic] amazing to me," the scammer writes, still playing dumb.

McGee says she's grateful she trusted her instincts and warns other people to be careful when applying for jobs.

"Basically, the reason why I did this is the help the next person," she said. "[My] gut tells me there is going to be a person that in these times does need the money."

RELATED: Beware of online job search scams

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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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