Northern Ireland

Student loses £1,500 in US au pair web scam

Chloe McCombe
Image caption Chloe McCombe discovered the firm was named on an anti-scamming website

A County Londonderry student was left over £1,500 out of pocket when an offer for au pair work in the US turned out to be a scam.

Chloe McCombe was contacted by a woman claiming to be a potential employer after she registered with an au pair website.

"She seemed really nice and really genuine," she told BBC Radio Ulster.

Chloe paid out the money to a travel company, which she later found listed on a "scammers beware" website.

Skype interview

Chloe, from Claudy, even had a Skype interview with 'Sarah Nicole', who offered her work for the summer with her family in New York.

'Sarah Nicole' arranged for her to pay a company called America Travels to get her visa and immigration documents in order.

"She told me she would cover my airfare over to America, so naturally I was quite excited," Chloe said.

However, when she searched for the employer's address on the web she found that the house was up for sale, and an anti-scamming website said there was no 'Sarah Nicole', or America Travels company.

The website showed that other supposed employers, with different names but using the same New York address as 'Sarah Nicole', had sent emails to potential au pairs requesting that they send money.

Chloe received genuine airline tickets, but was concerned that the company got her to send a copy of her passport.

If she cancelled the flights the money would return to the person who booked them.

"They're just so clever and so sneaky," Chloe said.