By Barbara Perone
WANTED: Job scammer. Conscience not required. Must be able to bilk unsuspecting job seekers out of money or steal their personal information or both. Fast-talking, cunning con men, or women, preferred.
They’re out there, folks. Calculating creeps who want to take advantage of our dead-in-the-water job market, just waiting to entice some poor soul, probably desperate for work, into thinking there’s a great job out there just waiting to be filled.
Employment scams are taking place all across the country. And just as authorities close in on the scallywags, they create new variations of the con as they move from town-to-town, state-to-state. In this first installment of a five-part series, here are a few details about the more popular job scams targeting unemployed workers today.
Scam #1 – “Recruiter” sends email asking for personal information
Commonly known under several different monikers, such as:
- brand spoofing
- foreign agent agreement
- payment-transfer, and
In this scam, an unsolicited “recruiter” sends you an email inviting you to look at the jobs posted on his website, which looks legitimate, but is not. Typically, the scammer has a foreign, strange- looking, or odd, name or may only provide a first name, such as, Jessica-HR dept.
The alleged “recruiter” uses a lengthy spiel to get you to fill out a form within the email; thereby trying to trick you into providing him or her with personal information, such as your: full name, address, home/cell phone numbers, date-of birth, driver’s license number, bank account numbers, personal PayPal accounts, or Social Security number, etc.
Legitimate companies don’t ask real recruiters to send such emails to prospective employees. Never provide any company with your personal information, either face-to-face, via email, or over the telephone, unless you either: have a history with the company, are familiar with the people (or business), or, you checked with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) and determined that the company is legitimate.
In other variations of this scheme, a scammer may offer to give you a gift card (often stolen) in exchange for filling out the form. Don’t accept it! If you receive one of these cards in the mail, turn it over to the police immediately and report the scammer.
Scam #2 –“Recruiter” offers “sales position” with “commission”
A variation of Scam #1, this time the fraudulent “recruiter” may tell you that the “company” wants to hire you for a sales position that’ll pay a ten, maybe fifteen, percent commission.
The clever con will offer to send you one or more checks, sometimes totaling hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Again, he’ll try to persuade you to deposit the checks into your personal checking/bank/PayPal account. Once he’s strung you along, the sly scammer will urge you to subtract your fee, then, give you a bogus address/mailing label to send the rest of the money back to the company. Only there is no company – the money goes right into the scammer’s pocket. If you fall for this scheme you’ll be labeled a money mule and you will be part of a money laundering scheme. For details, see Money Laundering 101 below.
Deposited checks don’t always clear banks immediately
Banks have no definitive way of telling whether the check(s) someone has deposited are real; so, it may take a few days for them to clear. If you fall for any variation of a phony check scam, the next thing you know, the bank is notifying you that the checks you deposited were returned. Now you are the person the bank will hold responsible for replacing all the money!
Money Laundering 101
Money laundering allows criminals to transform stolen, or illegally obtained, money into legitimate funds. Criminals want to launder their ill-gotten gains so they can move their money around, without fear the funds will be traced to their criminal deeds. And laundering prevents the police from being able to confiscate their money. For the crooks, it’s a win-win situation — until they get caught — then, it’s a bail-jail situation!
The most difficult step to money laundering is known as placement. In this step, the con must find a way to deposit illegal funds into a legitimate financial institution. The easiest way to do that, with large amounts of cash, is to get a money mule to deposit the checks into his or her personal bank account.
Under federal law, financial institutions, like banks, are required to report deposits of more than $10,000, in cash, made by any individual in a single day. So, the crooks cleverly manage to keep their deposits to just under that daily amount.
Whether they convert the cash into traveler’s checks, money orders, or cashier’s checks, this is where you come in, bunky — the innocent job seeker. The Flim-Flam artists will try to convince you that the job they are offering involves a legitimate business. All you have to do is transfer the money they send you into your bank account. Take out what the company owes you and send the remainder back. It’s that simple, only problem is, it’s illegal! And, if you get caught up in one of these schemes the police could label you as an accessory to the crime, so, don’t get involved in the first place.
Scam #3 – You were mistakenly overpaid for an “Online Marketer’s” job
This is a variation of Scam #2. It only occurs after you accept the position and start getting paid, probably with stolen money. After a short time on the job, the “company” will inform you that you have accidently been overpaid. They will urge you to immediately wire the excess amount to them, via Western Union. They may even threaten legal action if you don’t return it quickly enough. Instead of wiring the money, call the authorities and report what happened.
Scam #4 – “Recruiter” wants to run a background check for an “employer”
Here we go again — another variation of Scam #1. This time the caller claims to be a “recruiter” working for a potential employer, possibly located in a fictitious town in your state. The phony baloney will ask you to provide your: Social Security Number, address, birth date or driver’s license number, etc., so his company can run an extensive background check before the supposed “employer” can interview you. The scammer will try to rush you into hurrying before you miss this great opportunity and they offer the “job” to someone else.
If you get a call like this, don’t say anything, just hang up. Wait for a new dial tone then press *57 to authorize the phone company to trace the caller’s number & identity and turn the information over to the police.
Some “recruiters” in this scheme, might try to flatter you by asking you to come in for an interview. When you get there, they’ll instantly tell you that you have to job. All they want to do is scan your driver’s license to begin their background check. Decline the offer, leave the interview immediately, and report the incident to the police.
To read the second installment of this five-part series, see the blog entitled More Employment Scams.
Scam #5 – “Recruiter” tells you his company can only pay you by direct deposit
Yep, you guessed it, still another variation of Scam #1. This time the huckster will tell you that you his company will hire you, sight unseen. You just have to open a bank account because they can only pay you by direct deposit. Here’s a news flash for you – legitimate businesses won’t hire you without meeting you first & will never force you to be paid by direct deposit, they only offer it as an option. If you want a pay check you can get one for as long as you like.
Note: The only exception to this rule is the federal government; it requires employees to be paid by direct deposit. So, if you are trying to get a government job just thoroughly investigate the agency to make sure it is legitimate.
To continue to read about scams, look for the next article entitled “More Employment Scams” to be published next.