Finding a job during a pandemic
As a college student trying to find a job amid COVID-19, it's been hard. My semester ended at the beginning of May when states were just starting to reopen. So, there weren't as many places to apply to due to them not being open yet, and the places that were open typically had limited hours meaning they didn't need more staff. This left me in a predicament.
Daycares weren't opening or allowing full capacity, creating a new need: babysitters
So, I created a Care.com profile, filled in my availability, rate, profile picture, and even paid $20 for a background check. I was so optimistic that I would find a summer babysitting job, considering many parents had to head back to work. Despite my optimism, certification from the Red Cross for babysitting, and the numerous kids I've watched before, I had no bait. That was until one night, a parent actually reached out to me.
Basically, this 'parent' named 'Harmony' messaged me saying that they are looking for a summer babysitter, for their one son in a city near me. They noted that their free account was about to expire and gave me their email to contact them if interested. I emailed them ASAP for more information.
The first emails
Hi Ms. Harmony,
I'm Kaylee from Care.com and just applied to your position offering. I live close to Bedford ([ city sensored]), specifically) and will be available all days/hours this summer until August 18th. If you would like to set up an interview or have any further questions from my application, please let me know ASAP!
Thanks for your interest in watching my son, I am sure you will have no problem watching him. He is 4, free eater, not allergic to any food, love to explore his surroundings and easy to get along with. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have been observing all the healthy measures as directed by the WHO and CDC. We have no history of any fever recently and we have been observing the required social distancing.I am a single mother, hard of hearing and can only communicate via writing, reading lips and text messaging. I prefer someone who is well mannered, neat, honest and kind to establish a good working relationship with. Please note that I have a few applicants for the position but I made you my first choice so I wouldn't appreciate a waste of time.This babysitting position is till summer, Monday - Friday and from 9 a.m - 4 p.m each day except weekends. You will be assigned with taking care of my son, doing some errands, light cleaning and laundry, making lunches and meals. We are in the process of moving and our ETA is June 14, we are still hunting for an apartment and I will let you know our new address when we get a new place.Since I will not be able to meet you before we arrive, I have a few questions. Do you have any crime records? Do you have a valid driver's license? Do you have an open availability? Do you have any reference? What is your hourly rate? Please make sure to include your zip code in your response so I can check the map to read the distance between us. I will be waiting for the information requested.
Thank you! Laurne Blevins
I noticed something weird
Overall, her email seemed pretty normal to me and very well written. Although, there was one thing I found odd. Her name on the Care.com website was Harmony, but her email and email signature both said Laurne. At first, I thought maybe her name is Harmony and she was using her husband's email account, but then she said she was single. I didn't think too much of it and sent another email.
The last emails
Your son sounds like a joy and I believe I would be a good candidate! As your family, my family has also been following the CDC recommendations and we check our temperature daily to ensure we're fever-free and my zip code is [censored] .In regard to your inquiries, I do not have any criminal record, I have a valid driver's license/car insurance, my availability fits in with yours ( Monday - Friday and from 9 a.m - 4 p.m, plus other hours if needed until the end of August). My hourly rate is $10.00/hr if driving for errands is consistently needed due to gas but my mother is a single mother too, so I understand the difficulty, and if you would like to talk about a lower hourly rate we can. I can provide a few references if you would like but for now, [sensored] (a former coworker who I know is usually available for a phone interview as she is laid off due to the pandemic) is reachable at [sensored] @kent.edu I also know some ASL if you ever use that to communicate, but I can also write/text of course.
Last, is your name Harmony or Laurne? I believe it said Harmony on the website but I see your email says differently, so I apologize if I called you the incorrect name! I really need to find a job for June/July/some of August, but the pandemic has made it difficult. If you are interested and need any other information, please let me know, as I would love to help you out ASAP, even with moving boxes in if needed.
Thank you! Kaylee Smith
Thanks for the detailed information, my son is not allergic to anything and I know he will stay with a new sitter easily. Like I said in my previous email, I also want to inform you that we have a toy seller who will be sending my son toys to you because he has some special toys he likes and admires. We already ordered for the toys and it will be delivered before we arrive to avoid any disappointment.I want you to considered yourself hired for the position, we are willing to make a deposit to you as a security deposit so we can be assured we had already secure your service. The toys you will receive are kids Ben 10 car, train table, fun explorers construction set and some toys. Please understand that the aim of purchasing the toys is to ensure that they are available for Andre on arrival. The toys are not assembled, they are still packed and will be assembled once we arrive and due to his love for toys, we wouldn't want any delay with the arrangement for the toys. I want to believe my son will get the best care from you and we are looking forward to a good working relationship with you.I will need your first and last name, mailing address(include apt number if any) and phone number. I will be expecting this information so that my financier can send the payment to you. I will also need your reference contact.
Thank you, Laurne Blevins
The suspiciousness of the emails
1. The name: Harmony or Laurne?
I already stated that I thought the name difference was odd, especially for a single parent, but I didn't think it was that weird. What I did find weird, though, was the fact that in my second email to them I asked which was the correct name, and they ignored it.
2. They know the ETA of their arrival but are still looking for an apartment
Signing a lease isn't a quick task, yet they were sure they would find an apartment in said city by June 14th.
3. They're wanted to send me toys so their son isn't disappointed
If you know your son likes these toys so much, why doesn't he already have him or take the ones he has when he moves? Why do you need to be so specific about they toys he likes?
4. They said they already ordered the toys, yet asked me for my address for them to be delivered
How do you order something without having a delivery address?
5. Reference contact
They asked for my reference contact once again, even though I had already provided one.
6. The need for information for a 'financer'
'I will need your first and last name, mailing address (include apt number if any) and phone number. I will be expecting this information so that my financier can send the payment to you. I will also need your reference contact' makes no sense. Financer? Are you buying a house?
7. The fact they deaf-mute
This is obviously not to say by any means deaf-mute doesn't exist, but along with all of the other suspicion, it's almost as this was said to prevent me from offering a phone/video interview.
I realized it was a scam
After the final email exchanges, I realized none of it added up and a lot of it was suspicious. This occurred the very end of May, and mid-June I saw a TikTok about a girl telling a story nearly identical to this one. The only difference was that she didn't catch on quick enough, got a fake check, and deposited it- which could have ended very poorly. All in all, be careful who you trust, even on websites that seem safe.