On Your Side: Scammers place fake job ad, steal money through prepaid cards

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Prepaid cards are quickly becoming a preferred way for scammers to drain you of your money without ever showing their face. One Richmond man thought he was applying for a job when he was scammed.

Curtis Hill was lured in by a fake job ad in the newspaper.  The people behind it convinced him to load money on a prepaid card for his criminal background check.

He says they knew what to say, and made it sound urgent.

"It's a crime, oh God, it is stealing," said Hill.

Curtis has receipts for his prepaid card, names of people he talked to, and the job ad offering $16.50 an hour for medical maintenance work, healthcare and transportation provided.

"I said I could do this and still run my paint company. That's what got me," said Hill.
The number in the ad is linked to a recording for a company calling itself 'Environmental Medical.' Hill left a message. They called him back, set up an interview, and then called back to cancel because the big guy was teaching an OSHA safety class and couldn't make it.

Curtis was interviewed over the phone and told he'd have to pay for a criminal background check, but the company would cover the drug test.

"He said it's $109, and being that the job is state regulated, you have to do it today because the quarter is going to run out," said Hill. "I said, 'I really don't have $109 today.' He said, 'I know the boss really good. I can talk to him. You do half today, and we'll take the other half out of your pay check.'"
He bought a prepaid card, followed instructions, gave them the number on the card - and they didn't call back.

"They had everything they needed, and they didn't need me anymore," said Hill.

Prepaid cards are legitimate. People like them because you can pay bills and buy items without disclosing a bank account or financial information. Scammers like them because they're like cash, and once they have the card number, it's all over.

"Heartless. People out here, they're looking for a good-paying job, and they do something to people like this. I say they're heartless," said Hill.

You should never pay to be hired for work. Never trust ads asking for payment through a prepaid card or wire service. A transaction with a prepaid is just like cash. There are no protections.

"Well, I know the money is gone," said Curtis.
Curtis said he called a local lab supposedly performing drug testing and was told it was bogus and that someone else had inquired too. I called 'Environmental Medical' many times and only got recordings, no returned messages, and nothing shows up about the company online.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved