It looked like a great opportunity for Vanessa Duerr. The young Cazenovia mom found an online ad for a part time personal assistant and decided to apply. Duerr and her fiancee Joe Ward are taking college classes and have two young children. The job description she read talked about flexible hours and running errands for an organization that assists orphanages across the world.
"It was the fact that I could work from home and take care of two kids and go to school at the same time - that's what made it interesting to me," said Duerr.
Duerr got an e-mail telling her she got the job but it didn't take long for things to go terribly wrong. Soon she was told her new boss needed Duerr to deposit a check in her personal bank account, keep $600 dollars as a weeks pay and then wire the rest down to a contact in Louisiana.
"They said it was an orphanage down in Louisiana," said Duerr.
Duerr went to her local Key Bank and deposited a check that was mailed to her. Then she wired more than $2200 to the name she was given in Louisiana. It wasn't until a few days later that she learned the check she had deposited was fake - and she owed the bank the money.
To pay back the bank, Duerr and Ward had to give up their tax return refund and money Ward, who is a disabled veteran, gets for college. It was thousands of dollars they needed to live on.
"We were going to use the tax return money to buy new car seats. We had a small road trip planned this summer for my fiancee and I," said Ward.
Duerr says she can see some of the red flags now but the initial e-mails and texts about the job opportunity seemed so genuine, she trusted them.
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office has warned of similar scams and Assistant Attorney General Ed Thompson says criminals use modern tools to make older scams look legitimate.
"For the most part, they do change over time and so if you're not aware - you can get caught up on something new and different," said Thompson.
Duerr and Ward are now working with multiple police agencies and the U.S. Secret Service to get their money back. They hope that by sharing their story they can prevent someone else from being a victim.
For more from the Federal Trade Commission on check cashing scams - click here.