5 On Your Side

Scammers used state employment website to dupe veterans

Posted June 27, 2013
Updated June 28, 2013

— Ron Rhue is a proud Army man, and that makes him all the more angry about the scam that cost him money.

“The last one you want to mess with is a veteran,” he said.

Rhue uses the employment arm of the State's Department of Commerce to find work. A security guard position posted on the state’s website caught his eye.

The department even sent him and other veterans a letter pointing them to the job.

Rhue called the number listed and spoke with a man who identified himself as Chad Collier.

The man told him he was a perfect fit, Rhue said, “and then he began to tell me about the job.”

There was just one catch. Rhue was told he had to go through upcoming training at the Greenville Convention Center at cost of $500.

“The lump comes in my throat like OK, really?” Rhue said. “He says, ‘But of course we don't expect you to pay that.’”

Rhue's cost was $150, which according to Collier was “protection” should Rhue use the training to get other jobs. That reason made sense to Rhue, so he bought a debit card as instructed and paid Collier.

On the day his training was supposed to start, an excited Rhue went to the convention center with paperwork in hand.

“And I go in there and, of course, there's nobody," he said.

He called Collier several times and got no answer. So Rhue went to the employment office and talked to a staffer.

"He showed me a list and he said, ‘You are the 60th person that's been scammed, you know,’” Rhue said.

Although the job posted on the state’s employment website was thorough and believable, it was completely bogus.

The scammer somehow accessed a real company's login to post the job. The CEO of that company, Federal Security Services in Swansboro, is livid.

Walter Pylypiw believes the state employment office was "negligent" in allowing the post and called it "sloppy" that job postings aren't verified with a password or security question.

Department of Commerce spokesman Josh Ellis told us the fraudulent posting was on the state site for about two weeks.

“We haven’t had this problem anywhere close to this kind of scale before,” he said.

He said 121 vets across the state received letters about the bogus job, and at least a dozen paid $150 or more.

“With the volume of traffic that comes through…there's just no way to go through and do it,” Ellis said of the department’s lack of a verification process.

Said Rhue: "The employment office felt like their position was that they're not to blame because they're only a referral agency."

An investigation by 5 On Your Side found the exact same scam - using the same name and email addresses but a different company - made it through Michigan's employment site last month.

WRAL’s Monica Laliberte talked with a Chad Collier in Michigan. His law enforcement background parallels that of the person described in the scam, but he said he knows nothing about it and will help any way he can. Collier said he contacted Raleigh police Thursday and filed a complaint about identity theft.

Meanwhile, North Carolina has stepped up security and precautions. On Wednesday, officials added a bold message warning applicants not to send any kind of payment to a potential employer.

Ellis says victims should contact law enforcement. Rhue did and says he was told the best they could do was use the scam information as a training tool.

He just wants someone held accountable.

“For you to scam us out of it through a legitimate system, it's sad,” he said.

24 Comments

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  • superman Jul 3, 9:30 a.m.

    Having to send money should at least been a "red flag". People just fall for a deal that just seems too good to be true. You cannot save people from themselves.

  • dollibug Jul 2, 4:34 p.m.

    *** To many chiefs and not enough Indians (Oops, probably offended someone)(sic)

    Actually it is this way in most companies....the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. This applies to a lot of the government jobs as well...perhaps this is why the country is in such a HUGE MESS...no one knows what is going on and everyone is taking advantage of whatever they can get by with.

  • dollibug Jul 2, 4:31 p.m.

    People get duped all the time for one thing or yet another....Wake up people and do not fall for these scams. It is sad that anyone would think they would have to *PAY* to get a job. So sad that these people are taking advantage of those who can NOT afford it....but they have to accept part of the blame here, since they fell for it.

  • geoherb1 Jul 2, 4:13 p.m.

    I don't remember Linda Coleman being the head of ESC. She was a legislator before being appointed the head of the Office of State Personnel.

  • IPayYouPay Jul 1, 11:09 a.m.

    Common Sense Please: DES (it is now called) does the best job it can with funds it is given. Talk to your "congressman" to get something changed. They can't do without funds to do it with.

  • IPayYouPay Jul 1, 11:08 a.m.

    I'm always skeptical of someone requesting a payment from me. One day scammers won't be able to do this because WE will be better about protecting ourselves. I do.

  • common sense please Jul 1, 8:20 a.m.

    "With the volume of traffic that comes through…there's just no way to go through and do it,” Ellis said of the department’s lack of a verification process."

    I laugh out loud every time I hear this excuse. All that means is that you are unable to perform the job you were hired to do. Plain and simple. ESC has NEVER provided me one service while being unemployed for over two years. If I were a high school drop-out with a criminal record, I could go to work tomorrow. Because I am a middle aged, college educated, white, heterosexual male, they have no service they can offer me.

  • tayled Jun 28, 2:36 p.m.

    And, at least my experience with ESC, came while Linda Coleman was at the head of the ESC. That's the reason I could not vote for her for Lt. Governor when she ran in the last election.

  • tayled Jun 28, 2:32 p.m.

    "With the volume of traffic that comes through…there's just no way to go through and do it,” Ellis said of the department’s lack of a verification process."

    That is simply just complete baloney. It is very simple. You do not allow anything to be posted that has not been confirmed as a legitimate company and a legitimate job offer. I hope they find this scammer, and whoever is in charge of this part of the ESC needs to be fired immediately

    I agree. I applied with a legit company that had a job listed on their website. the hiring manager said he had been after the ESC to remove it from their database for well over a year because the job had been filled that long ago. He said he finally gave up and when applicants called in as instructed, he just informs them that the job is no longer available.

  • tayled Jun 28, 2:30 p.m.

    Tell me about it! I posted the comment about the robo calls a while earlier. When I called the ESC about them, a man at ESC said "we don't control that, you will have to call this numer" and he gave me another number. that number turned out to be the main number for state government, who sent me right back to the ESC. I finally got a department manager to remove my name from the unemployment rolls, despite the fact that as soon as I obtained employment over a year ago, I notified them and stopped doing weekly claims online.

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