An Ontario woman was hoping to earn extra money working a side hustle to help her deal with the rising costs of living, but ended up getting caught in an online employment scam.
“My source of income where I work, it’s just not enough for me after paying all my bills and paying my rent,” Emmanuella Ayonote, of Brampton, Ont., told CTV News Toronto.
Ayonote said her told her about a job she could do online – a job she found in a chat group.
“She explained to me that the job is you have to register with the company for $500. After that, I would do work and be paid a commission, and it sounded like a good idea,” Ayonote said.
After she sent $500 to the company, Ayonote said she started doing the required work, adding it looked like the money in her account was growing with each task she completed at work.
But, when she tried to withdraw the funds, the website shut down.
“At one point it looked like I had $800 and I was trying to withdraw it, when everything crashed. I feel sad, so extremely sad because $500 to me is a lot,” she said.
Niagara Regional Police (NRPS) issued a news release recently after getting complaints about employment scams from victims who lose money while hoping to earn income.
“Be cautious and you should never send money to an employer as that’s not common practice. The employer will send the money to the employees – not the other way around,” NRPS Const. Barry Ravenek told CTV News Toronto.
Janita Pannu, founder of digital marketing agency OPIIA, told CTV News Toronto that if you’re looking for work, you should never have to pay in advance for employment.
“The only conversation you should be having with a future employer regarding money, should be about your compensation,” Pannu said.
When searching for a job online, be wary of job offers sent through email or text, remember that the most legitimate employers conduct job interviews and any promise of “easy money,” should be red flag.
Most importantly, when you see a job offer, do your research.
“If they are asking you to pay for things like training, or software or equipment that’s definitely a red flag,” said Pannu.
Ayonote was part of a larger group who may have lost as much as tens of thousands of dollars to the scam.
“We are just trying to get the word out to stop the scammers from going here to there to swindle more people. People work hard for their money and they should not be swindled,” Ayonote said.
According to the Financial and Consumer Services Commission Canadians lost 7.1 million dollars to job scams last year.