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Beware of scammers!


The Internet is one of the biggest achievements in human history, nonetheless, this global network has some disadvantages as well. We never know who is on the other side of the computer monitor.
AuPair.com checks all its members daily. Nevertheless, we would like to share with you how scammers used to get some benefit from the Au Pair program.

How do the scammers work?

The scammers try to acquire some financial benefit from the Au Pair program. These people are neither interested in a cultural exchange nor in hosting any Au Pair. They try to gain trust of people involved in the Au Pair program and receive money at the first opportunity.
 
If anyone asks you to pay for anything in advance, don’t do it. Even if it is a money transfer to your own deposit account. This rule lets you avoid 100% of scam attempts.

How to spot a scammer – at a glance:

There are some typical characteristics of fake Au Pairs/Host Families. If you spot any cases mentioned below, be careful and inform us!

Contact details

If a user displays his/her contact details in the profile, she/he is usually a scammer and always – a cheater. Premium Membership fee allows users to exchange the contact details. Due to this fee we can keep this platform safe for you. Bypassing this system put us all in danger.
 

Pocket money

Au Pairs should earn certain amount of pocket money monthly. Although the Au Pair’s help is sometimes priceless, no one pays more than the standard rates. Thus offers with surprisingly high amount of pocket money are unreliable, be careful!

A plea for help

If the user inform you, that there was a horrible accident or a dreadful disease and there is an  “urgent need” of your help, it’s usually a fraud attempt. Even if the statement seems frightening and real to you, it is probably a scam. It will be better if you start looking for another match.

Defend yourself from the scammers

How to avoid the scammers? Be careful and use your common sense – that’s the best approach.

Don’t send any money abroad…

… in advance. Even to your own deposit account! You shouldn’t pay for anything this way. You can purchase a Premium Membership and learn more how Au Pair travel expenses and insurance work. You should neither rent any flat abroad nor pay for anything in advance. 
 

Don’t contact Au Pairs or Host Families met outside the online agency – for example on social media

Social media channels, like Facebook, are not the right place to find a Host Family or an Au Pair. Online matching agencies check the background and reliability of their users, while social media doesn’t have to. From our experience, 80% of the scammers come from Facebook. We don't advise contacting Host Families or Au Pairs this way and we will not be able to warn or protect you in case something goes wrong.

Always arrange a video-call

Scammers almost never agree to meet through a live video-call, because it will reveal their identity. If the user refuses to meet you at the video-interview, he/she is not a reliable person for further cooperation.
 

NEVER validate your account!

Neither at AuPair.com nor anywhere else. AuPair.com, your bank, any other online platform – we will never ask you for account validation.
 

Schemes used by scammers

  1. The travel agency
  2. Live-out Au Pair - the real-estate agency
  3. Fake Au Pair agency
  4. The Au Pair Community agent
  5. The perfect Au Pair
  6. The Au Pair got stuck at the airport?
  7. Host Family sends checks
  8. Host Family moving soon!
  9. AuPair.com’s references
  10. The lawyer
  11. Account validation

The travel agency

If you receive an offer of assistance in the travel preparation, read the following example and make sure you don’t contact any fake travel agent if it happens to you. Show an example  

"Contact the ticket agent and make enquiries about the tickets and working permit document from your country to UK and gets back to me via email don't worry about any expenses that this might cost you I shall refund all expenses incurred by you after you get here when I pick you up from the airport, I just want to be sure if you really want to work for me..."

As soon as you send the money, you will never hear from this user again. Sometimes the fake travel agent might contact you to ask for an additional payment as the first amount is insufficient. Here is another sample e-mail sent by a fake agent. 
Show an example  

“Dear client,

We got your contact from one of our customer Ms  xy who has made a reservation  with us to travel  Friday  the xx of  xx from xx to xx.

Her reservation code with us is PP6J4Y/EA/XX

The flight cost is 480 euros with  XX

Ms xx has asked us to contact you for  payment of the outstanding 480euros.

>Once our accountant receives this money, we shall issue an air  ticket  to Ms  xx.

We advise that payment should be made via Western Union since it is faster and easier to send and receive money. This is because we only accept payment via our bank account if payment exceed 2500€ and it will take about a week and more for the payment to mature.”


Live-out Au Pair - the real-estate agency

Host Families have to fulfill certain requirements to join the Au Pair program. One of them is the ability to provide a free accommodation in their home. If the Host Family, against the rules of the program, offers to provide accommodation in a different place, for example a nearby flat or a little house with all the facilities, it’s usually a scam attempt.  

The fake Host Family will ask the Au Pair to deposit a relatively small amount of money – to prove that the Au Pair is able to live in the Host Country until the Host Family covers the complete cost. 
 
The Host Family might inform you that there is only one suitable place in the entire neighbourhood. Moreover, there are many other people waiting to rent that place. The Host Family will recommend Au Pair to act quickly and get in touch with the specific real estate agent to pay the rent. Show an example  

“The apartment we have found you is very good and very cheap and I am not sure you can find anything better, also this apartment is next door to us. The estate caretaker confirmed to me that if you do not like the apartment on arrival they will refund all your money but I am very sure you will like the apartment (...)” 

Fake Au Pair agency

These fraud attempts are common among fake Host Families claiming to be American. As the United States has really strict Au Pair Program’s requirements, there are many possibilities for scammers to trap Au Pairs.
 
Au Pair has to use a full-service Au Pair Agency to come to the US. Moreover, this agency has to be a designated J-1 visa sponsor.
 
Many fake “American” Host Families try to convince the Au Pair to get in touch with an agency for arranging their arrival and the Au Pair stay. Check carefully if this agency exists at all!
 
The Au Pair has the right to choose the way he/she wishes to arrange the Au Pair stay - no one should interfere in these decisions. The Host Family should help with the arrangements, but the Au Pair is the one who decides!

The Au Pair community agent

This case is very similar to the fake agency case. The scammer claims  to be a representative of the Au Pair community rather than an Au Pair Agency. It’s common among fake Host Families claiming to be British. There are no visa requirements for many Au Pairs from European Union countries. 
 
A fake community will send the Au Pair some documents, designed in order to prove the community to be real and to make the Au Pair pay an entry fee.

The perfect Au Pair

English is one of the most popular languages worldwide. Many Host Families would like to find a native English speaker as an Au Pair.
 
This is also the reason why most scammers claim to be British, American, Australian or Irish girls. It is very difficult to expose them. As they are probably not native speakers, they use some templates written in a quite good English to connect to a Host Family. Show an example 

“Thanks for your mail, I am 23 years old British. English is my first language but I also speak French too (my current Au pair family is polish). I have been an Au pair for four years now in four countries. My maximum Au pair in a home has been one year in Scotland I have worked for the Nathalie Hawn family (Scotland) I have also worked for Isabella Reinaldo family(Portugal) Before leaving for Yaounde, Republic of Cameroon where I now work with the Technical assistant of SNV, a Dutch NGO present all over the world. My current family is polish and I am leaving them because my contract has ended. I have been with them for one year, on a good salary, with lovely kids. (...)”

Usually, fake Au Pairs make you believe that you are the perfect Host Family. They tell you that they don’t have enough money to pay for the flight ticket, insurance or any other expense. Their family can’t help, thus they will ask you to transfer the money and deduct it from the Au Pair’s salary. Show an example 

“Thanks  for your mail.I understand your fears and worries. I don't expect that you pay for my flight ticket.I have been an Au pair for a couple of years and know the rules.If it were not for the expensive flights, I would have bought the ticket by now. I had budgeted for flight but never knew they shall be this expensive.If only I had not been saving for school in an irrevocable account from which I can only withdraw in Sept 2016, I would have withdrawn some money towards the cost of this ticket”


The Au Pair got stuck at the airport?

This case is usually combined with the one above. The perfect Au Pair with great references, extensive experience and charming personality, is stuck at the airport in some distant country. There was some horrible accident and the Au Pair can’t leave the country! The flight ticket is no longer valid, thus he/she needs to book another ticket as soon as possible.  
 
After sending the money you will never hear a word from this Au Pair and you will never see your money again. If you wish to share the travel expenses with your Au Pair, you can return them after Au Pair’s arrival in the installments. 
 

Host Family sends checks

The fake Host Family will write you some emails and send you fake checks in advance to make you think they really want you to become their Au Pair. A few emails later, after you have received the "money" and both of you have agreed on the terms of your stay, you will get awful news: wife and children have died in a terrible car accident, so you will be no longer needed. You will be asked to send the money back. After some time, family’s transfer will be cancelled, and you will lose twice as much money as you received.
 
Below is a case happened to one unfortunate Au Pair, who became the victim of the scammer. The case is slightly different, but the mechanism is clear. Show an example 

“I had no money for accommodation and  “the host mother” said she would hold a conversation with her partner and they will send me money to rent accommodation. The mother of the fake Host Family send me money by her partner Paypal account. She wanted to pay the rent for accommodation with them for three months, but after a while I decided that this was unreal and I decided to return all money. She did not want to receive the money back in her partner Paypal account. She told me to go to the local Moneygram office and send her money via Moneygram. 1 month later her partner made chargeback "unauthorized payment" of the money that they sent through Paypal.  I was cheated!”


Host Family moving soon!

The fake Host Family will make you believe you are the perfect Au Pair since they will be moving to your city! Everything will be new and due to all those changes they will need  an Au Pair. To ensure that you will  become their Au Pair, they may even send you a certain amount  of money if you open a bank account in a specific bank.
 
Later on, the Host Family will ask for the money for your future Au Pair placement. The previous payment will be cancelled.
 

AuPair.com references

AuPair.com checks the members daily. If we find a scammer, we send warnings to all people who were in touch with this user. We are never mistaken at this point and we will never send any message withdrawing our decision. 
 
Scammers send messages on behalf of AuPair.com. Show an example 

“This is to inform you that you were recently contacted by aupair.com team about the Family of Lewis Anthony [lewyanthonemailaddress@gmail.com] from United Kingdom which we earlier informed you may be fraud or scammer. We wish to inform you that we have re investigated and have found out that they are a real and genuine family from the documents which we requested from them. You are requested to go ahead and share any personal documents or travel details with the family; we have apologized with them for tarnishing their image on the aupair.com website and to aupair applicants. We hereby confirm them to be genuine. We also request you to report us the family on support@aupair.com if you also find that family is fraud or scammer during anytime of job offer discussion with family. Kind regards, AuPair.com”


If you ever receive a message similar to the one above, you may be 100% sure, that it is a scam attempt. AuPair.com doesn’t share the email address of any of our members and will never send similar messages. If you receive it, inform us. 
 

The lawyer

This fraud scheme is very similar to the fake Au Pair Agency.The Au Pair will be contacted by the family’s lawyer. The lawyer will offer help to deal with the paperwork, visa application, maybe even with the future accommodation. The lawyer may offer the help to obtain a criminal record or medical report, without any unnecessary formalities. The Au Pair only needs to deposit the certain amount of money and send scans of the passport, ID card or further documents. Even if your deposit is done on behalf of you - you are about to lose the money.
 
Never deposit any money. Read about the Au Pair Program, there is really no need to pay for anything in advance. Show an example 

“He contacted me via aupair.com, and after some conversations, we agreed that I would travel to UK to work as an au pair in his home. He sent me some form to fulfil ("Visa application", the contract, etc). I did it. Another requirement was to send a copy of a deposit receipt to UK (to proof funds to enter to the UK) in my name. It was only to prove I had the money to "live" there, so I could collect my money once installed in the UK. At first I didn't suspect anything because the deposit was made in my name (It was me the only person that was able to take the money). But as I sent to him a copy of the deposit, and also a copy of my passport he was able to collect my money (I don't know how).”

Account validation

What’s that and how does it work? Phishing, so called account validation scam, is one of the most common attempts to receive confidential information. In this case: your login details.

If your login details happened to be stolen through a phishing site, the scammers acquire access to your account and can deceive people on behalf of you and your family.
 

How does it work?

The scammers contact you through some fake account. As soon as they get to know your email address, they will send you a request for your account validation. The request is supposed to look like sent by us. It will be signed as AuPair.com and even email address may look like one of our ones. Nonetheless, AuPair.com will never ask you for your account validation or block your account without a reason! Show an example 

"Dear Family / Au Pair

We have noticed that there are some family abandoned accounts on our database and the management as instructed that all abandoned account on our database should be deleted.

Hence, we require that all families on our database should validate there account to avoid account deletion and you have just 24 hours to validate your account. Accounts that are not validated within 24 hours will be deleted.

Kindly enter your email and password on our validation page below to validate your account.

Reply directly to this email for more details and inquiry about account validation.

Thank you for using AuPair.com. We wish you the best in your search!

Regards,

Webmaster"


What’s going on now?

When you introduce your email address and password on the phishing site, the scammers receive your login details. They can access your account, which now will be shared between you and the scammers.
 
Your account, reliable and already approved, is misused  through this loophole in the security. The rest of this service is in serious danger. The scammers will contact Au Pairs or Host Families on behalf of you, gain their trust and contact details and use one of the described schemes above to proceed.
 

Is there anything else?

Unfortunately, yes. Recently the scammers began to access stolen profiles and changing passwords. When you are no longer able to enter your profile with your own password – the scammers demand money for your account’s reactivation. It’s beyond imagination, but we witnessed this kind of attempts already. Therefore, let us stress again:
  • AuPair.com will not ask you for your account validation
  • AuPair.com will never close your account on its own.
  • AuPair.com will never demand any money from you.
The only payment to AuPair.com you can make is the Premium Membership fee. We will never charge your bank account.
 

See also