If you use care.com for nannying jobs DO NOT respond to job inquires that you receive via text or anywhere other than through the messaging part of the care.com website. This has been a PSA.
I recently came very very close to falling victim to a nanny scam before I realized what was happening and figured it would be a good idea to explain the scam to prevent it from happening to other care.com users.
I created a profile on care.com about a week ago. Almost instantly I received several messages through the site from families that were interested. A few days later I received this text message:
I emailed her that I was interested in the details of the job and this was her response:
How are you doing?I will be needing you for my Son Ken. My name is Bailey Fulgham and my husband’s name is Jerry Fulgham .Ken is a great kid and easy to get along with.He is sweet, loving boy who loves play, be outside,go to parks, go on walks and just have fun. He is 4 years old, very bright, engaging, and love to explore his surroundings.He is free eater, well cultured, very well behaved and well mannered and he is not allergy to food or anything. We are looking for someone who will be caring, kind, and patient with him.This offer is for someone of well mannered attitudes, neatness and good sense of relationship, so if you are interested in this offer PLEASE answer the following questions
1,Which area do you currently stay in?(zipcode or area)
2, What are your charges per hour?*
3,Do you have any special attitude? *
4,Do you have a valid drivers license? *
5,How old are you ? *
6,Do you have any crime records? *
7,Do you have an open availability? *
8,Are you married? *
9,What are your likes and dislikes in kids?*
10,Can you tell us more about you?*
11,Do you want morning or afternoon shift?*
I will like to share more information about our son Ken and they are below:
.. He has no problem with dogs or cats
.. His favorite foods are cinnamon-raisin toast, peanut butter, skim milk, salmon burger, whole-wheat roll, mayonnaise, leaves romaine, sweet potato fries, orange, wheat penne,
olive oil, fresh tomatoes, basil,
1 whole-milk mozzarella + steamed or salted green beans with olive oil, strawberries, ice cream, tofu
.. His favorite snacks are Mamultigrain crackers, almonds, carrot sticks, hummus, blueberries, nonfat plain yogurt, toasted wheat germ, honey, sweet potato fries.
.. He loves cartoon
.. He is nap taker
.. He loves color
…His favorite books are Where the wild things are; Barnyard Boogie; The Gruffalo
.. You can take him to anywhere of your choice
.. If he gets bored, you can allow him to play with his toys
We want you to work for up to 4 hrs/day and 4-5 times in a week depending on your schedule and availablility.I want you to answer the above questions
Bailey & Jerry Fulgham
I thought the email and the information about her son was strange but I answered her questions and then received this response:
After a lengthy discussion with my husband, we decided to choose you for this job and we hope you will do this job diligently,the good news is that we got a new apartment in Campus area which will make it easier for both of us because we are not far from each other.We agree with your charges per hour and your schedule for this job.We also decided to give you one week advance payment to show our commitment to you so as to have you booked and secured prior to our arrival because we are rounding off plans and allotting money to issues that should be settled before we arrived but unfortunately my Mother in-law died some hours ago, so we will be traveling for the burial anytime from now,the burial is slated for this week,we will be so busy with the burial of my mother-in-law because she will be finally laid to rest this week but we will be there with you on Saturday February 20th,and you can start the next day. We decided to give you one week advance payment to show our commitment to you,we don’t want to owe you when we get there because we plan ahead for our bills and there is something else you will help us with and we will be happy if you can do it for us.We will issue your one week advance payment plus the Landlord'(Rent) payment as we will be busy with the burial of my mother-in-law because she will be buried this week and the landlord told us there are other people who are interested in the apartment and we don’t want to lose the apartment for any reason,the apartment look perfect for my family and it is nearer to you.We will issue the check in your name,so when you clear the check you will deduct your one week advance payment and help and pay the landlord on our behalf and get the keys and the receipt for us,we would have handled this ourselves but because we will be busy with the burial we can’t and the landlord needs someone that can get the keys physically and we just have to entrust you with this.If we don’t pay the house rent this week he will give the apartment to another person and we don’t want that.This really a trying time for us.We will be so happy if you do this for us,we will need the below information from you:
1*Your Full name,
4*Cell Phone number
We will send you the landlord’s contact information and the apartment address to you as soon as soon as the check clears.You will deduct your one week advance payment,pay the landlord and get the keys and the receipt from the landlord.I hope you will show us many beautiful places when we get there and we will let you know if we need your help in one way or the other to make our relocation a smooth one.When we get there you will get to know us well,i attached the picture of myself and my son Ken to this email so you will have a clue of what we look like.Keep us in your prayers.
Bailey & Jerry Fulgham
Usually when I apply for a job of this sort once a family has decided they want to hire me, they offer me the position instead of just saying “we have decided to choose you for this job.” This put me in an uncomfortable position with the other families who I had also been taking to through the care.com website. It also seemed really strange to me that these people would feel comfortable entrusting a complete stranger that they found through the internet with the responsibility of paying their lease. Additional red flags were that she agreed with my charged per hour, but in my previous email I had explained that whatever she thought best between 10 and 20 dollars and hour would be fine with me and she asked for my cell phone number even though the beginning of our correspondences were via text. However, I figured that these mistakes were just a result of the stressor of losing her mother-in-law and I was distracted by the offer of the advanced payment (broke college students beware!) and the fact that she included a picture convinced me of her legitimacy so I responded with my mailing information and told her that I would be happy to help.
Three days later I got this email:
How are you doing today?I am sorry for my late response it was due to the preparation for the burial,i also want to notify you that i got your name and address,i will let you know the day the check will be delivered to you.I don’t want you to panic if you don’t get a quick response from us it was due to the burial, be rest minded you have been given this job.We i will send the landlord’s information to you as soon as we can.Let me know you got my email.
Bailey & Jerry Fulgham
I responded that I understood the circumstances and she didn’t need to apologize and I asked if she would be mailing the check to my campus PO box. This was her response to that message.
i am sorry for not getting back to you sooner,on our way to the burial we were involve in a car accident that left my husband and i very injured,thank God Ken escaped and he is fine but my husband and i have a serious injuries and we are currently at the hospital receiving treatment,we will be discharged on Thursday 18th and we will be there on 19th which is Friday for sure.you can start the next day.
Also i want to notify you the check has been mailed out and you will get the check Today or Monday through USPS(POSTAL SERVICE),when you received the check i want you to go and deposit it immediately,when the check clears you will deduct $300 for yourself as part of one week pay and the rest ,i will send the landlord’s information as soon as the check clears and i will send you the full address of where we will staying as soon as we are discharged from the hospital.I believe you will help and take care of everything before we arrive and we really thank you for your help.Ken can’t wait to meet you.Let me know you got my email and i want you to text me on 440-374-7414. Thank you for your patience and understanding and keep us in your prayers.
Bailey & Jerry Fulgham
Here is where I started to become really skeptical. I’m far from the luckiest person alive but this just seemed like an unbelievable stretch of bad luck for this family. Also, she had not answered my question about the PO box and the dates she shared regarding when she would make it to the apartment in this email where different than the ones in the previous emails. I googled the area code of the phone number and found it to be in Ohio and then searched white pages for a Bailey or Jerry Fulgham living in Ohio; neither existed. I was still confused as to why she hadn’t told me where her apartment was (other than that it was close to my campus) or who the lease was going to but I responded that I was sorry that she was having to go through all of this and would let her know when the check came. An authentic (looking) check for $1,989 made out to me arrived the next day so I sent her this email:
I received your check! When you get a chance please send along your landlords information and I will bring the money over.
This was her response:
Okay i will do that asap? i want you to deposit the check now and let me know when you done ok
It did not make sense to me that she would not send me the landlords information until I had cleared the check so in a final attempt to not get screwed by this overall very weird situation I google searched “Bailey Fulgham Care.com.” The search brought me to a website called thedailyscam.com with an article about 2016 “Nanny Scams” against care.com users. In the article I found that many of the emails that Bailey sent to me were sent to care.com users verbatim and at this point I realized what had happened.
How the scam works:
The scam targets online banking users. Because the check totally looks authentic (even my Dad thought it was real), recipients will upload the check to their online banking, withdraw the cash they need to pay the landlord and go pay it to whoever the scammer directs them too. What those who fall victim to the scam do not know is that it takes a few days for a check to clear. In 3-4 days you would be contacted by your bank and told that you tried to deposit a fake check and by that point the scammer would be long gone with $1,689 of your money. You think they are being super generous by offering the advanced payment but they are actually just forcing you to make a major cash withdraw from you account for them.
What to look out for:
- Do NOT respond to job offers from anywhere other than the care.com message board.
- Run a check on the potential employer to confirm that they exist via Whitepages.
- Don’t be convinced of authenticity because of pictures, specificity or pity over their situation.
- Don’t get so blind sighted by the offer of advanced pay that you miss obvious red flags and discrepancies.
- Make sure the potential employer is answering the questions you send them in your emails and not sending generic cut and paste messages.
- Be mindful of poor grammar and punctuation. Aside from the event of a possible language barrier, you should expect professional emails from your potential employer with correct grammar and punctuation.
- Pay attention to inconsistencies in dates and times or even names. The name on the check sent to me was from Larry from LA and in previous emails Bailey shared that her husbands name was Jerry and the area code of her cell phone was OH.
Apparently this is a relatively new problem and care.com is working on fixing it but I would definitely recommend looking out for yourself and being reasonably skeptical about potential job inquires from outside the website.
Happy (safe) job hunting!