Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)

B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

A Harrison Hot Springs woman who lost $3,000 in an elaborate employment scam is sharing her experience in hopes that it will help others avoid falling victim to the same scheme.

“I would really hate for anyone else to go through this,” Bria Fisher said, “especially from here around the Agassiz, Harrison area. Because it’s a small town, it’s not like finding a job is that easy.”

Fisher had been looking for work in mid-February, applying for customer service positions in the Fraser Valley. She said she had been “applying to everything,” including some through Platinum Empire Group where all she had to do was put her name, phone number and email address into a form.

A few days later, she had some interview offers — including one that came in as a text message, asking if she had applied for a customer service position.

The message forwarded her to a messaging app, and connected her with what appeared to be the local meat delivery service, truLOCAL. Through the app, Fisher received a job description for the position, and began a conversation with a man named Istvan Morris.

“I even talked to him on the phone, I did an interview for it, was sent a job agreement, a job description, everything,” Fisher explained. “It was all very, very real.”

SEE ALSO: 8 scam online-shopping websites fraudulently use Abbotsford address

Fisher quit her job, signed an agreement and was prepared to start work for truLOCAL on Monday, March 1.

She was told she needed an Apple MacBook Pro, as well as various kinds of software. She was told truLOCAL would send her a $3,000 cheque to pay for the equipment; she would need to purchase a Flexepin voucher and send the code back to her supervisor so they could activate the software.

Flexepin is a prepaid voucher that allows people to make online payments using its 16-digit PIN. The website states to never disclose the PIN, even when dealing with the Flexepin team, as “telling someone the 16-digit PIN or part thereof is the same as handing them cash.”

Fisher was asked to print out images of the cheques, and she put them in her account through a mobile deposit. She purchased the Flexepin voucher and sent the PIN. On the Saturday before she was set to begin working, they sent her an additional $2,000 cheque to deposit.

“For some reason I had just a feeling that I needed to go and look into it to see if there was any reason why the cheques wouldn’t go through,” Fisher said. The bank said it was likely a scam, but she should wait to see if the first cheques bounced.

“I waited and they bounced, so I figured out it was obviously a scam from that.”

Fisher brought her particular case to the Chilliwack RCMP, to see what they could do to help her get her money back and prevent others from falling victim. The RCMP are looking into the scam to see how widespread it is.

SEE ALSO: Agassiz woman warns of credit card scams

There are several companies with the name Platinum Empire in Canada and the United States, however, the Platinum Empire Group Fisher applied through does not appear to be affiliated with any of them. The website for Platinum Empire Group has no information other than the list of positions available to be filled, and job postings simply say the company “provides its clients with value and unbeatable customer service.”

There are currently 162 positions listed on Indeed through Platinum Empire Group from B.C. to Ontario. Jobs are also listed on Glassdoor, Workopolis and other job sites.

Alicia Adams, HR manager at truLOCAL, said this scam has been an ongoing battle at her company over the last several months.

“Despite notifying Google and filing police reports, we’ve essentially been met with the responses that there isn’t much that can be done,” Adams said in an email. “At this point the most important thing we can do is educate others to be cautious and aware when interacting online.”

SEE ALSO: Fraud reports spiked by nearly 45% in April as scammers take advantage of pandemic

Adams said that truLOCAL does occasionally hire Customer Experience Specialists for their team, but those jobs are posted to Indeed directly through their company career page.

She added that the company never cold contacts potential candidates through SMS, WhatsApp, Telegram or email. Candidates are never asked to deposit a cheque or money order of any kind, and candidates are never asked to purchase a gift card or equipment of any kind for the position. If equipment is required, it will be purchased and delivered directly by truLOCAL.

Anyone who is unsure whether they are dealing with truLOCAL for a job application can reach out to info@trulocal.ca to confirm is the communication is legitimate or not.

Other companies, including Ontario’s Badlands Brewing Company, have posted on social media about hiring scams using their company name.

“We are not associated with a ‘Cyrilo Jones’ or ‘Sergio McKenize’ or ‘Istvan Morris,’” the company wrote in a January Facebook post. “If you have received texts from ‘Badlands’, they are a scam.”

Fisher likely won’t be able to get her $3,000 back, and she’s now out of work after quitting her old job to prepare for what she thought was a new position at truLOCAL. But she’s hoping that her experience can help prevent others from finding themselves in the same situation.

“I had never heard of anything like this ever being done before,” she said. “That’s why I wanted to … reach out to say something.”



news@ahobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Typing stock image taken from pixabay.com
OPINION: Learning tough lessons from a shocking incident of racism

Throughout the pandemic, a frequent response of mine to the question ‘how’ve… Continue reading

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising five years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

The Kimberley Public Library is returning to curb side only borrowing for the next while. Bulletin file
Kimberley Public Library returning to curb side pick up only

Beginning today, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, the Kimberley Public Library will return… Continue reading

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. Photo courtesy Conservative Party of Canada.
MP Morrison hopes for economic recovery plan in upcoming federal budget

Kootenay-Columbia Conservative looking for post-pandemic recovery plan in next week’s Liberal budget

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Miss., holds a box containing doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, April 7, 2021. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
EXPLAINER: What’s known about COVID vaccines and rare clots

These are not typical blood clots – they’re weird in two ways

Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Most Read