Scammers in the Pacific Northwest may be offering jobs cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that leave unemployed workers open to identity theft, warns the Better Business Bureau, Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, and the Yakima Indian tribal authorities.
The recruitment may have been an identity theft scam, and others who may be approached with similar offers of employment need to avoid handing over personal information.
"The Yakama Nation cautions all Tribal Members that the oil clean-up jobs apparently offered by recruiters at headquarters on Tuesday, June 15, 2010, were not endorsed by the Tribe or the local BIA, and appear to be a scam targeting the vulnerable and impoverished Yakama community," the tribe said in a statement late Thursday.
They say Yakima community members were offered jobs paying as much as $40 an hour in Louisiana and Florida – and that the interested workers "eagerly" turned over all their personal information to two men who are now being sought by authorities.
Some of the Yakima tribal members even quit their jobs to relocate.
McKenna's office now says no one has been able to confirm that the jobs are legitimate – and that only BP is allowed to certify contractors for the oil spill.
Officers are looking for the man believed to have led the recruitment, "Christino Rosado" or Rosazo, and an investigation is underway on his companies, Season Fruit, Go Fish, or Tri-Tech Corporation.
The Better Business Bureau of Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Montana reoports they spoke with Christino Rosado, Jr., who said he and his father, Christino Rosado, Sr., are legitimate business owners but that he failed to "produce proof of a contract with BP."
"First and foremost, I want to caution all Yakamas from signing up and giving personal information for these so-called jobs without first identifying the credentials for anyone holding themselves out as having a relationship with BP," said Tribal Chairman Harry Smiskin in a statement.
"Second, the Yakama Nation does not believe there are legitimate oil clean-up jobs waiting for our people," he said.
McKenna's office said the Oregonian newspaper reported in April that a man named Christino Rosado was able to gain workers' personal information by claiming to open a fruit juice processing facility in Oregon.
Northwest consumer advocates say anyone who has already given personal information to potential job scammers should check their bank and credit card statements for unauthorized charges immediately.
McKenna's office suggests placing a security freeze on all your credit files, which prevents credit bureaus from sharing your information with any potential creditors. Find out more at McKenna's website.
The Attorney General's office also suggests job seekers who may already have been scammed should review their credit history by requesting a fraud alert and at the same time request a free copy of your credit file; review it for accuracy.
Individuals can place a free fraud alert on their credit accounts, alerting you to attempts to open new accounts with your information.
For more information about credit fraud, call the toll-free number at Equifax, 1-800-685-1111; Experian, 1-888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742); and TransUnion: 1-800-916-8800.
McKenna's office also makes basic suggestions for job seekers who need to guard their personal information.
"if you're thinking of a job in the Gulf, take precautions to check out the company in advance," McKenna's staff said in a statement. "And don't give out personal or sensitive information, such as a Social Security number, until you've had a chance to read and sign an official employment contract."