Scammers are everywhere and they like to prey on people desperate for money. There's one group that's vulnerable to this type of scam: veterans. Corpus Christi resident and army veteran Michael Santos is in that group after losing thousands of dollars.
Santos, 58, thought he hit the jackpot when he scored a job for an online company.
"The initial contract stated I would receive $3,500 a month, plus $20 per parcel," explained Santos.
Santos needed that job to supplement his income. Before that opportunity presented itself, he spent weeks online, applying for work. When he received an e-mail for a job he could do from home, receiving packages and mailing them out, he knew he could do it.
"I'd receive the package, inventory it, document it, send them the documents, they'd send me a tracking link. I box it, then take it to the post office. It was a no brainer."
The company, called Safe Fulfillment, seemed legitimate. Santos spoke with a supervisor and checked out its website.
"I looked their company up on the Internet for scams-- they didn't show up."
Santos sent the company his social security and driver's license numbers and began his job. Three weeks later, he got a surprise.
"I saw three cop cars come up [to my house]."
Investigators were there for Santos. They told him the packages he had received contained merchandise worth thousands of dollars--all bought with stolen credit cards. Then, Santos e-mailed his supervisor but didn't hear back.
"I wasn't able to get into their company website. The guy wouldn't accept my calls."
Also, Santos never received the wage he was promised.
"I lost almost $4,000."
That's how Santos found out he got scammed.
"This is a huge problem," said Kelly Trevino, with the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi.
Trevino said scammers target military members or veterans like Santos, looking for extra money.
"Someone through a phishing scam sends an e-mail to a military personnel or vet saying they have a great job opportunity...you make a lot of money for little hours and all they need to do is train you.," explained Trevino.
Read more about scams targeting military personnel, here: https://www.bbb.org/cleveland/news-events/news-releases/2016/11/bbb-offers-tips-to-help-veterans-combat-scams/
Sometimes, those companies will charge workers for training, which is a red flag; you shouldn't pay to learn how to do a job.
According to Scam Tracker, 2,500 military members reported scams in 2016. Those scams cost them $1.3 million.
"Veterans and military are especially vulnerable to scams. One of the reasons is...because they're used to sharing their information," explained Trevino.
That's one thing Santos learned the hard way.
"I'm searching for opportunities but now...I have to change my way of thinking," added Santos.
If you think you've been the victim of a scam, report it here: https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us
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