Detectives in Ventura County were warning residents of "work at home" scams Thursday.
Fraud detectives say it starts with your job search or posting a resume on sites like Monster.com or Craigslist.
Not long after, the person is contacted.
"They're contacted by somebody via email or text message," Detective Tim Lohman of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department said.
The text offers a job working at home. Within a day, an official-looking mailer arrives to the victim's address with instructions.
It says you can be a "secret shopper," buying stuff at places like Wal-Mart or Apple.
The text instructs: "Go into apple and buy three phones."
"They were advised to send those three phones to an 'evaluation center,'" Lohamn said.
The instructions say it'll cost the victim $3,300 - but don't worry: your mailer includes a check for $3,300.
"I think I've made $600. Right? That's what people believe. That they're actually making money," Lohman said. "But this is fake... it's a fake check."
This person is not the only victim in this scam.
A person at an "evaluation center" address receives the stolen goods and sends them on to the crooks.
One victim at an "evaluation center" was told he would be paid $2,000 a week at $20 per package.
"There is a chance you can be arrested for this. You're an accessory to a criminal enterprise. You're assisting them," Lohman said.
The Thousand Oaks Police Department offered some tips:
- Do not give out your personal information to someone you do not know
- Be suspicious about accepting a job offer from an overseas company
- Be wary if you receive a check as advance payment for a job and they require you to deposit it into your account and wire a portion of the money
- Do not pay up front fees
- Research the company through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), State Attorney General, or Better Business Bureau
- Remember, there is no easy to way to make money working from home. Most home based business or jobs require long hours and hard work.
Anyone victimized by scams like this can contact the Thousand Oaks Police Department by calling (805) 654-9511.
Victims can also file complaints with the following agencies: