There is the choice of two roles the scammer can adopt; either that of the host family or the au pair/nanny applying for the job.
In the case of the former the con artist would create a bogus profile using a website’s registering facility. If they are required to pay – which is the case with most automated sites – they will enter fraudulent credit card details, which would be processed and accepted by the automated service.
They are then free to make contact with any au pairs or nannies they so wish; having gained access to contact details through result of payment.
Once their target is chosen the fake family would exchange emails with the au pair gaining her trust and evoking her interest in the position. In many cases a cheque or a money order of a ridiculous amount is sent to the girl as a measure of goodwill. Before the money can clear however the family would ask for part of that advance to be sent back via money transfer (WU or MG) or another method, claiming they need it for school fees or as a deposit on a property. The original amount sent will not clear of course and the girl will be left with no prospective job offer and out of pocket financially. Well and truly conned.
The faux family may also contact au pairs who do not have the correct Visa for their target country, claiming they can arrange this for her through their ‘travel agency’. This of course comes at a price, which – as soon as the girl pays – results in the helpful family disappearing.
The scam can also take the form of pretending to be an au pair or nanny and registering with a website. They will claim to have fantastic qualifications and proceed to exchange emails with prospective families. At the last minute they will request financial aid to help them with their travel costs, the family having no reason not to trust the girl they have been in contact with through the au pair website send the money, only to never hear from the girl again.
These kinds of scams flourish on automated websites because there are no detailed checks carried out on the registrations. These kinds of sites are reliant on numbers of members and are so large it is impossible for administrators to check every person who joins.
For more information please check on the following page: Au pair Scams
Soraya is currently doing a BA in Media studies at Cardiff university and is a marketing consultant for Almondbury au pair and nanny agency and Nanny Agency