Scam leaves job hunters out thousands of dollars

Some job hunters are out thousands of dollars after falling victim to an employment scam that police liken to catching fish.

Ottawa police getting 2 to 3 reports of employment scams each week

Angelik Mangone-Trepanier said she now owes the bank $3,820 after cashing a fake cheque sent to her by a man pretending to hire her. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

Some job hunters are out thousands of dollars after falling victim to an employment scam that police liken to catching fish. 

Ottawa's Angelik Mangone-Trepanier, 23, thought she was was being hired as an assessment officer for a company claiming to be Micaura Consulting, but the new job ended up throwing her deep into debt.

"I felt, well, destroyed, honestly. I felt very sick, depressed because it seems almost so hard for someone in my generation to just catch up on debt," Mangone-Trepanier said.

She had applied for the job online in early March and was almost immediately offered the position.

Angelik Mangone-Trepanier, 23, now owes her bank $3,820 after falling victim to an employment scam. 0:35

Mangone-Trepanier said she was mailed an employment package and a cheque for $3,820.

The cheque was to be cashed at her bank and used partly to purchase a product and evaluate service at a Walmart and also to evaluate a bank by depositing $3,400 into an account indicated by her employer. 

She was also given $320 for her pay and miscellaneous expenses.

I felt, well destroyed honestly. I felt very sick, depressed...- Angelik Mangone-Trepanier

Shortly after completing the tasks Mangone-Trepanier realized her account at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) had been frozen after the cheque bounced.

Now, she owes the bank $3,820 and can't reach the man who pretended to hire her.

"It's just been a fight, a non-stop fight and it doesn't seem like it's going anywhere," Mangone-Trepanier said.

"I get up and I don't have any hope any more. Like I'm just so upset and I stay at home, sometimes crying."

RBC said in an email that the company does its best to work with clients impacted by fraud or scams.

Halifax woman also scammed

Mangone-Trepanier posted a review of the company online and it caught the attention of Aparna Sridhar.

The 23-year-old Dalhousie University student believes she was also scammed by the same person pretending to be a recruitment officer for Micaura Consulting. 

Aparna Sridhar was scammed out of about $6,000 after she thought she was hired as an assessment officer. (Eric Woolliscroft/CBC)

In her case she lost about $6,000. 

"I was totally devastated. I did not know how to respond because it was completely new to me and I did not have any such experience in the past," said Sridhar, who recently moved from India to study in Halifax. 

Sridhar filed a complaint with Halifax police and Mangone-Trepanier told the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre but it's unlikely they will ever get their money back, according to Ottawa police. 

Challenging cases for police

Sgt. Steven Desjourdy with the Ottawa police organized fraud unit said the department receives two to three reports of employment scams a week. 

"For the scammer it's an easy target because the person's looking for them. All they have is a website, basically like a fish net, and people come to them and get caught," Desjourdy said. 

Catching those responsible is not easy because the scammer could be anywhere.

"The suspect could be in Asia, the victim in North America and within minutes the money in Europe," Desjourdy said, adding people need to be vigilant when accepting online job offers. 

Sgt. Steven Desjourdy says employment scams are challenging cases to investigate because the suspects could be anywhere in the world. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

'What a violation'

The actual owner of Micaura Consulting said she is personally offended that someone is using her company name to scam job seekers. 

Laura Vero-Augustine told CBC she closed down her Calgary-based business in 2017, but left a few online accounts active.

Laura Vero-Augustine says she closed down her business Micaura Consulting in 2017, but left a few online accounts active. Now, it appears as if someone is using her company name to scam job seekers. 0:36

Now, she lives in Nanaimo, B.C., and said she's been contacted by about 20 different people asking questions about the hiring process. 

"What a violation, I mean I worked so incredibly hard and the whole purpose of it was to help people," Vero-Augustine said.

It's a scam that leaves some job hunters out thousands of dollars and it's done using the names of real companies. 6:35

Vero-Augustine also contacted police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, but isn't expecting the man behind the scam to be caught. 

She's hoping by speaking out more people will take precautions.