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)

Harrison 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 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.

SEE ALSO: Agassiz woman warns of credit card scams

Cpl. Mike Rail with the Chilliwack RCMP said the best thing someone can do if they aren’t sure whether something is a scam is to follow the 48 hour rule before sending any money, and talk to a friend or contact the RCMP.

“It it seems to good to be true, it probably is,” he said.

The RCMP are looking into the scam to see how widespread it is, but Rail said he wasn’t sure how many there had been in the local area.

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

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

Photo courtesy of Abbotsford Police Department.
‘Vehicle Maintenance 101 for Teens’ to be hosted by Abbotsford Police traffic officers

Virtual meetups with Q&A period held on April 23, May 11, May 25

Stock photo from Unsplash.com
Free online workshops on ‘advance care planning’ hosted in Abbotsford

3 sessions hosted by Abbotsford Hospice Society and Association for Healthy Aging

People stroll through rows of tulips in bloom during the Tulips of the Valley Festival on May 2, 2017. The colourful spring event, now called Chilliwack Tulips, opens on Sunday, April 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack tulip attraction open this weekend after being closed last year due to COVID-19

More than 6.5 million bulbs in all at this year’s colourful Chilliwack Tulips event

The new American Eagle location at Highstreet Shopping Centre is set to open up this summer. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Abbotsford American Eagle store opening at Highstreet Shopping Centre

Sevenoaks Shopping Centre location closing on April 18, new store opening in summer

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
1 taken to hospital after plane crash at Metro Vancouver airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage, says freelancer

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read