By Shelley Brown| December 10, 2015 at 6:30 PM CST - Updated August 10 at 1:28 PM
METAIRIE, LA (WVUE)
It's often called the most wonderful time of the year, but if you're not careful, the holiday season can bring out the con artists looking to get hold of your money. We have a follow-up to a FOX 8 Defenders report that shed light on a scam that continues to target people in our area who are searching for a job.
"Caring for the elderly - I think that's the best job to do," said Lorraine Gomez of Metairie.
In her search for work earlier this year, Gomez posted her name and number on a website that connects caregivers with people who need them. Right away, someone contacted her, but by text message only. In one of the early messages, the person on the other end said her name was Mrs. Mary. She explained to Gomez that she was hard of hearing and would soon be moving to Louisiana.
In our FOX 8 Defenders interview with her in September, we detailed how a con artist took advantage of Gomez's unemployment status and managed to dupe her out of $1,800 using fake money orders. While she’s not likely to get her money back, Gomez did find work after the Jefferson Council on Aging Executive Director saw our story.
"He (Al Robichaux) knew that we did this kind of work, and he definitely wanted to reach out and help someone in need," explained Joe Lasko with A First Name Basis Home Care in Metairie.
Lasko hired Gomez for part time work as a caretaker.
"You know, meal preparations, light housekeeping and then transportation, doctors appointments, errand-running - you know, when the patient can't do those things," Lasko said.
"What really caught me was the story you did with Ms. Gomez, her trying to help somebody and they wound up hurting her," said Kendell Trepagnier of New Orleans.
Seeing our FOX 8 Defenders report on Lorraine Gomez may have saved Trepagnier from falling for a similar scam.
"I was looking for a part time job because my wife's back in school. We just had a baby, and we have two other kids that's in school," he said.
In his search for a job, Trepagnier, like Gomez, responded to an ad on a website.
"They had line chef, sous chef and cleaning," explained Trepagnier.
Eventually someone contacted him, but through text message and email only. He read some of those messages: "I am pleased to inform you that you have been hired. The reason I want this job to take off before meeting is because I am coming back to town with some guests," one message said.
Keep in mind, the two never met, yet the person posing as an employer mailed Trepagnier a check for nearly $2,000.
"He wanted me to deposit the check into my account, my personal bank account," said Trepagnier.
Then Trepagnier said he was instructed to wire some of the money to two other locations. The rest of the money would be Trepagnier's first paycheck.
"I'm like, that's quite unusual because I'm like, how you gonna pay me for work I haven't done yet? And in addition to that, why can't you just send the money to the people yourself?," asked Trepagnier.
The check may have looked real, but it wasn't.
"They (financial institution) ran the check eight times, and it came back it was an invalid account number," Trepagnier said.
Tis the season for scams. If you think you've been victimized, file a police report and tell your bank or credit card company. You may have to close your account and report the fraud to credit reporting companies.
If you have a consumer complaint, call the FOX 8 Defenders at 1-877-670-6397, fill out our online complaint form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.