The advert normally reads something like this “Au Pair Job in the U.S.A for the Jones Family” or something similar to that. Becoming an Au Pair is seen as something exciting as well as a chance to visit foreign lands and explore different cultures. It is however a situation that scammers love to take advantage of. Here you have a young women searching for employment overseas, both the innocent as well as the unknown are factors that scammers thrive on.
The Au Pair scam is perpetrated in many ways, here are two of the most common scams.
Scammer acts as a potential Au Pair
A scammer poses as an innocent teenager wanting to travel overseas to a willing family who will pay for all travel and living expenses. What more can a scammer ask for? They lure families in with cute pictures and the show of innocence.
Scammers Create and run a fake Au Pair Website
Scammers setup fake websites while getting “subscriptions”, “placement fees”, “air travel payments” and a plethora of other “fees and payments” in order for a family to secure for Au Pairs. Of course these Au Pairs never show up on your doorstep, typically the family is out thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it except fake images of an Au Pair and a wealth of promises from the so called agency.
How do you go about protecting yourself from these types of scams?
The best rule of thumb is to never send money by Western Union, Money Gram, or other means directly to someone you have not met in person and have legitimate business with. Do not send any money for travel, legal, or other fees directly to your prospective host family. You should purchase tickets for travel yourself directly from the airline, pay fees related to obtaining a work visa directly to the government agency responsible via your local embassy, etc.
You can further protect yourself by researching your desired country of employment and their laws relating to foreign workers and work permits. Education is the key to preventing scams, and the more you educate yourself about the tactics scammers use the less likely you will be to fall victim to their traps.
Finally, Scamwarners.com has an extensive section relating to Au Pair scams. You can see examples of the typical scam email format, and some of the common names, email addresses, and photos that they use in their scams.