MERCER COUNTY, NJ --  Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes reminded residents on Tuesday to be wary of Internet scams looking to prey on unemployed workers facing hardships during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency.

“With people looking for job opportunities while sheltering at home, Internet employment scams have become more prevalent,” Hughes said. “Please stay vigilant and do not fall victim to phishing campaigns and other unscrupulous activities.”

According to the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Prepardness' Division of Cybersecurity, a scam recently surfaced involving employment ads offering teleworking opportunities.  After a victim acquires an interview, and is given an offer of employment, they are prompted to complete various forms, such as a W-9 and direct deposit.  The scammer is then provided with all the details required to drain bank accounts and steal the victim’s identity.

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The Division of Cybersecurity urges jobseekers to research potential employers and businesses prior to providing sensitive information, and reminds people to exercise caution when opening unsolicited emails and to confirm details via an alternate means of communication.

The New Jersey COVID-19 Fraud Task Force, a joint federal-state effort to investigate and prosecute unlawful and misleading activities related to COVID-19, has provided recommendations to avoid common COVID-19 related scams. Residents are encouraged to report possible misconduct through a hotline established by the National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721.

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