Clever job scam builds trust before dropping hammer

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Michael Lorenz said scammers pretended to be a company and "hired" him to buy gift cards. (Source: CBS 5) Michael Lorenz said scammers pretended to be a company and "hired" him to buy gift cards. (Source: CBS 5)
Lorenz says Va Bok set up their own checking account, put money in it, and linked it to Lorenz' credit card so he could pay off his first purchase. (Source: CBS 5) Lorenz says Va Bok set up their own checking account, put money in it, and linked it to Lorenz' credit card so he could pay off his first purchase. (Source: CBS 5)
The first purchase was something very small - one $50 Best Buy gift card. (Source: CBS 5) The first purchase was something very small - one $50 Best Buy gift card. (Source: CBS 5)
It was only after the company instructed him to max out his credit cards on more gift card purchases, send over the codes, and await immediate reimbursement, did he figure out the scheme. (Source: CBS 5) It was only after the company instructed him to max out his credit cards on more gift card purchases, send over the codes, and await immediate reimbursement, did he figure out the scheme. (Source: CBS 5)
"I knew immediately that it was a scam because there's no need to buy gift cards for individuals or companies in Europe," Lorenz said. (Source: CBS 5) "I knew immediately that it was a scam because there's no need to buy gift cards for individuals or companies in Europe," Lorenz said. (Source: CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A Phoenix man says he foiled a sophisticated work-at-home scam and wants to help others know the red flags to look for.

Job-opportunity crooks are getting smarter. The flexibility of working from home is very appealing to many job seekers and con men know this. Sometimes they will go as far as to actually send you money just to build your trust to think they are legit, then they try to take every cent you have.

Michael Lorenz has his resume on several job sites. He says he got an email from a company called Va Bok that claimed to offer bulk buying power to European businesses. After a short phone interview, Lorenz says Va Bok offered him a job as a purchasing agent.

"My understanding was that I would be one of their procurement officers to help them source certain materials," Lorenz said.

Lorenz says he was promised a company credit card but only after his two-week trial period where he'd have to use his own card to make purchases. He wasn't worried.

"The understanding, according to their SOPs was that all the funds would be sent to me prior, my expectation was that it would probably go into a checking account," Lorenz said.

Lorenz says Va Bok set up their own checking account, put money in it, and linked it to Lorenz' credit card so he could pay off his first purchase. It was something very small - one $50 Best Buy gift card.

"I knew immediately that it was a scam because there's no need to buy gift cards for individuals or companies in Europe," Lorenz said.

But Va Bok had now proved they would reimburse Lorenz. It was only after the company instructed him to max out his credit cards on more gift card purchases, send over the codes, and await immediate reimbursement, did he figure out the scheme.

"They would use the gift cards immediately, so they'd be useless to me, there would be no funds sent to me, then I would owe the balance on my credit cards," Lorenz said.

See how the scheme works? The company builds trust by putting a small amount of money in your account the first time in advance and that keeps you from getting suspicious the second time when they promise to send the large reimbursement right after you send them the gift card codes.

Lorenz cut off all contact with Va Bok and hasn't heard from them since. He didn't lose any money but someone else could have lost everything. CBS 5 News reached out to Va Bok to discuss their "opportunity" and no one returned our emails or phone calls.

Job scams are getting smarter; job seekers need to as well.

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Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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