June 16, 2024

Tower techs and foremen are being approached about high-paying roles by recognizable companies who give them a check for PPE equipment that unexpectedly bounces

A duo of fraudsters claiming to be HR representatives from a renowned installation contractor based in Texas, have been fooling job applicants for the past two months. Their scam, enshrouded in believability because of their industry intelligence, leverages a novel excuse for sending the candidate a check amounting to a thousand dollars or more.

Drawn from the plight of several companies Wireless Estimator reached out to, in past instances, tower techs, foremen, and other construction workers have been stripped of substantial amounts of money using the designed ruse below.

A fellow conspirator would engage with the individual via a job-seeker board or through a fabricated job listing. Showing off industry prowess, they propose the job vacancy and provide a check intended to cover relocation expenses and a week or more of allowances.

Upon depositing the check, the unsuspecting newcomer would get a call within forty-eight hours from the company’s HR representative. The caller would advise them that they are to fly to a project destination within a week and they must promptly procure their airline ticket by reaching out to their recommended travel service provider.

When the applicant reaches out to the travel agency, which is likely part of the master scam, the agency explains why the one-way fare was rather high. In addition to the airfare, they take care of arranging a pickup truck for the worker’s extended usage from the airport. The conveniently accepted payment methods include Western Union and other money transfer channels.

With the payment made, the applicant is convinced he did well because the charges incurred were lower than the check amount that was sent. However, a few days later, the applicant faces the harsh reality that the original check was bad.

The Latest Scam Provides Upfront Payment for Worker’s PPE
The latest twist involves an advance check for the purchase of personal protective equipment and other necessary gear to ensure OSHA compliance upon the applicant’s arrival at the new project location.

In December, after posting his resume on Wireless Estimator’s job board, Jesse Touchstone found himself flooded with several inquiries. The most impressive offer came via a text from someone calling himself John R. Glenn with a contact number 774-593-3793, claiming to be an HR specialist with the construction company.

Touchstone, a veteran with six years of experience, was asked to complete his interview using the Hangouts mobile application with Karen Taylor for a foreman position.

Describing her as vocally industry knowledgeable, he revealed the interview lasted for over an hour, leaving him eager to learn if he would secure the position.

He was indeed successful. An elaborately detailed and professionally prepared offer letter bearing the contractor’s letterhead was sent to his email. Among other things, it entailed stock option information, company benefits, and an hourly wage of $35.00 and an hourly wage of $28.00 during the training period. Without hesitation, he signed and sent it back.

Taylor revealed that Touchstone would be sent a check to help defray the costs of his PPE and other miscellaneous expenses. This would ensure that he would be adequately prepared to commence work at a newly opening office close to his California home. Additionally, he was to secure his PPE from their preferred safety equipment vendor.

He received a check for $3,450 via FedEx from an office building share location in Tampa, Florida. Touchstone became suspicious when the seemingly authentic check was not issued by the contractor, but instead issued by Orthonow Doral, located in Doral, Florida.

To confirm his suspicions, he took the check to his local bank officer who then confirmed his worst fears – the check was bogus. He immediately reached out to the contractor and informed them of the matter.

In the span of five days, Wireless Estimator has been informed of additional offers to wireless workers, believed to be from the same contractor and other renowned contractors.

The fraudster pair, suspected to be using a disposable phone from Provincetown, MA, are also targeting a couple of military veteran employment boards with falsified tower climber job posts. Wireless Estimator has since notified them of these fraudulent activities.

Wireless Estimator's publisher, without providing a resume or identifying the position he was seeking, received a higher hourly offer than another intended victim who was offered $35.00.

Wireless Estimator’s publisher, without submitting a resume or specifying a desired role, received an hourly offer surpassing that of another prospective victim who was offered $35.00 per hour.

In a bid to understand the workings of the scam, on Jan. 3, 2019, Wireless Estimator’s publisher, under the guise of a potential applicant, reached out to the hoax email address supposedly belonging to the contractor, expressing interest in securing a job.

In less than twenty-four hours, the scammer replied to the email, stating the publisher’s resume made the shortlist and was due for an interview with Karen Taylor, despite the fact that no resume or job preference was ever disclosed to Glenn. The scammer even went further by stating an initial offer of $38.50 per hour and $28.00 while in online training.

The relevant authorities were notified, but their ability to track and launch an investigation into the suspected fraudulent check was limited due to jurisdiction boundaries and their self-admitted inability to effectively tackle swindling scams that are reported on a frequent basis.

The Better Business Bureau reveals that counterfeit check scams occur tens of thousands of times weekly, leading to an estimated half a million American victims in 2017, each averaging a loss of $1,200.

Indictments are few and far between. The Federal Trade Commission suggests the best recourse for prosecution lies in contacting your state’s Attorney General.

They insist that the best line of defense in avoiding such scams is for consumers to stay informed.