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How to Spot a Nanny Scam

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More and more nannies are turning to online recruiting sites and classified ad websites like Craigslist for job leads, rather than going through the traditional nanny placement agencies. While this approach can often prove fruitful for hopeful nannies and their employers, the number of fraudulent postings and outright scams has also grown exponentially.

Spotting these scams might be simple for more experienced nannies, though even seasoned veterans have been known to take the bait; unfortunately, brand new nannies with minimal experience tend to end up on the receiving end of these dirty tricks more often than not. The strongest and most effective line of defense that a childcare provider searching for a private nanny position has is her own instinct and a few tips for picking out fraudulent job postings and emails.

Signs That a Job Posting May Be Fraudulent

While there are dozens of variations on the theme, most employment scams that target nannies and other domestic workers these days tend to have a few fundamental commonalities, making it easier to smell the proverbial rat once you know what you’re looking for.

Upon contacting a potential employer in regard to his job posting, you’ll almost certainly receive a follow-up email. In many cases, the confident man posing as an “employer” will inform his intended target that he lives overseas immediately, and offer the hopeful applicant a post on the spot. The “interview” process is likely to be sparse or non-existent, though the poseur parent will almost invariably offer a post to the applicant. Soon thereafter, stories about a mysterious fortune or hefty “advance” to cover travel expenses for the hopeful nanny to travel to the foreign, often exotic locale will emerge.

Wire transfers and well-forged checks are the favorite of international scammers, who often send large amounts of money in the form of a sign-on bonus or travel expense account to their new nannies with instructions for her to deposit the funds to her own account. Soon, often within 24 hours, an unforeseen household expense or family emergency will emerge, causing the family patriarch to request the return of his deposit until such time as he can make arrangements to repay it. Naïve, obliging young nannies promptly send the requested funds back to their swindler. By the time the victim has discovered that the check or money order was fraudulent, they’re usually out hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fees and penalties to their own bank, in addition to a significant chunk of their own money.

Other Red Flags

There are several potential employer behaviors that should serve as major red flags for nannies in search of a new position, especially those that are seeking a post overseas. The first of these is a reluctance to speak on the phone or via webchat; this may be an attempt to mask an accent or lies about the scammer’s gender or nationality. Furthermore, emails and other correspondences with outlandish word choices, poor grammar and spelling difficulties may also be a sign of someone attempting to make a quick buck through a con job, as well as a refusal to provide names and contact numbers of former employees for verification purposes. Elaborate tales designed to elicit sympathy, especially those including the untimely death of a spouse or political emergency, also tend to be the figment of a confident man’s imagination.

Potential employers that offer you a position after a cursory glance at your introductory email, regardless of whether or not you’ve attached your resume and references, may seem to be a brand-new nanny’s dream come true, as you have no resume to share. However, offers of employment on the other side of the globe without the first conversation about experience, availability or education level should be considered suspicious; the likelihood of any parent offering a perfect stranger a job caring for their children without first ensuring that the applicant is capable of the position is so slim it should be considered nigh-impossible. An honest job listing with a real family isn’t quite as likely to appear “too good to be true;” real families have real children with their own set of demands and drawbacks. There is no perfect post, because there are no perfect people; some jobs may seem too demanding, too lax or too low-paying to be the ideal fit, but they are almost always legitimate job postings. Nanny positions in Europe or other exciting foreign cities that offer an enormous salary in exchange for very few hours and extremely light duties are almost always fraudulent postings designed to reel in an unsuspecting applicant in order to perpetrate an employment scam.

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