Last updated: August 24. 2013 8:12AM - 805 Views

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LIMA — The Better Business Bureau of Lima is warning residents of an active scam that involves tricking residents to believe they are working for a company as a packager.

Ashley Epperson, of resident, said she thought she was working for J.C. Penney to ship blue jeans from the United States to Russia.

She said she received an email saying there was a job open that allowed her to work at home and ship out packages for the company to Russia. Being a stay-at-home mom, she said she thought it would be a great opportunity for her.

“I’m a stay at home mom and my daughter was six weeks early,” Epperson said. “So I thought ‘Well I don’t want to go back to work yet. I want to stay at home with my child.’ So I was emailed asking if I was looking for hours and I said ‘yes.’ He said it was part-time work, as needed and I would make $11 to $16 on Saturdays.”

She applied, filled out the proper forms and sent 10 packages for the company. She realized her position was not legitimate after the company sent her a Bloomingdale box, and she was under the impression she was working for J.C. Penney.

She reported the scam after the company refused to pay her, and she called into J.C. Penney and found out she was not listed on the company’s payroll.

“What’s going on here is they have an operative in this company who is stealing credit card numbers or credit cards themselves. They order things online, via catalog or go to department stores and buy things with these stolen credit cards. There’s no overhead,” said Neil Winget, president of the Better Business Bureau of Lima. “They send them to somebody, like Ashley, somebody they’ve recruited, so there’s no paper trail. The person then sends them on to these other countries, and the black market deals with them there.”

Though Epperson didn’t lose any money, she lost valuable time that she could have spent looking for jobs elsewhere, Winget said.

“That’s what makes it unusual,” he said. “What she got ripped off with was her time and her energy and her good name.”

From there, Epperson said she contacted the company and said she would report them to authorities if company representatives did not contact her back. They did not, so she reported the scam to the BBB, who contacted the FBI and the Allen County Sheriff’s Office.

“It is active in our area right now,” Winget said. “And I want to get the word out to people that can stop it at the gate and recognize what it is.”

Winget said there have been two Lima residents who have come in detailing the same scenario for him and a few other calls wondering if the email eliciting residents to apply for the position is legitimate.

The other man who was scammed was looking online for a job and applied for it.

“They responded and said ‘Hey, we’ve got this website. It’s almost a gift-club thing. We’re going to send you this merchandise and you’re going to send it on,’” Winget said. “They had a website and everything. I looked up the website and the website happened to be the website of a real company that hasn’t been in business for over a year. So see, this is where it matches up with the Bloomingdales thing. They use those names that people might recognize that aren’t there anymore, or have changed, or merged with somebody or bought out.”

Winget said he encourages residents who are suspicious of any scams to go to www.IC3.gov, which is the Department of Justice’s fraud hot line website.

You can comment on this story at www.LimaOhio.com.

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