Overview of Avoiding Care Scams - Care.com Scam


Overview of Avoiding Care Scams

Whether you are seeking care for yourself or a loved one or whether you are a caregiver hoping to find employment, please be careful about unscrupulous con-artists on the internet targeting unsuspecting individuals.  The World Wide Web has become a terrific opportunity to expand our access to information and to purchase products at low cost from anywhere in the world.  Unfortunately, the Internet has also become a terrific opportunity for criminals to target unsuspecting seniors, patients with chronic disease, and Good Samaritans.  Technology and Internet businesses are expanding way too fast for our government to legislate against cyber crimes.  Cyber crime may be far more appealing and less risky that robbery or violent crimes because the risk of getting caught is so much lower and the penalties are typically much less for “white collar” crimes. 

As a physician, I have strived to make a positive impact on my community.  In fact, I established DrKnows to help patients and families find caregivers and to help professional care providers to locate clients.  Whether or not you find what you are looking for through DrKnows, please be careful, and keep in mind that there are a few unscrupulous people in every community who are targeting seniors and the infirm in their selfish quest for personal gain.

During the fall of 2014 and early 2015, scam artists have begun targeting kind, well-intentioned caregivers on Care.com.  According to the KEYT News Channel 3 TipLine report titled “Don’t Fall for the Wheelchair Scam” presented on Friday, January 30, 2015, Mercedes Myers of San Luis Obispo, California fell victim to a scammer as she was looking for employment as a babysitter through Care.com.  Ms. Meyers received a text from a Care.com user asking that she watch the woman’s six-year old and then claim that the woman’s four month-old child and husband had both recently died in an automobile accident.  The “con-artist” (I use the term artist only by convention but believe there is nothing artistic about deceiving and manipulating good-hearted, innocent people) then sent Ms. Myers a cashier’s check as an advance for her pay as a baby sitter.  The mother seeking a sitter also claimed that her daughter needed a new wheelchair and asked Ms. Myers to help her purchase a wheelchair.  The unsuspecting babysitter then opened a new account at the Golden 1 Credit Union in Paso Robles, and she cashed the check.  The following day, the scammer claimed that she needed money right away for a new wheelchair for her six year-old daughter, and she instructed Myers to wire the funds to Africa.  It turned out that the original cashier’s check was counterfeit, and when the baby sitter honored the request to forward money to Africa, the funds were lost forever.  Unfortunately, Golden 1 Credit Union failed to follow the common bank practice of placing a temporary hold on the funds.  Other Care.com users have fallen victim to similar scams.

Both Mercedes Myers and Golden 1 Credit Union made some mistakes.  Ms. Myers unfortunately should have been more cautious and lest trusting.  Not only did the scam artist create a sob story to take advantage of the victim’s common decency, but the scammer also recognized that most people prefer to get paid in advance.  Myers probably figured that if she got the money before working that she wouldn’t get ripped off by working and then never getting paid.  More importantly, she should not have wired money to a foreign country.  The Credit Union definitely should have placed a hold on the funds, especially when accepting a check from an unfamiliar bank and from a new client.


The following are some tips to help protect yourself from online scams.




Notify Law Enforcement of Scams

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