Don’t Be Fooled by These Tricky New Job Scams

Audri Lanford’s interview with Bottom Line details 5 current job scams you need to watch out for: Internet Scambusters #334

Today we have a Special Issue for you. Audri was again
recently interviewed for an article in BottomLine/Personal
called “Don’t Be Fooled by These Tricky New Job Scams.” This
article on job scams appeared in their May 1, 2009 issue —
just a few days ago.

We’ve subscribed to Bottom Line/Personal for years. It is a
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We again asked for and received their permission to share this
terrific article with you. We hope you enjoy it…

But first, we urge you to take a look at these top articles
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And now for the main feature…

Don’t Be Fooled by These Tricky New Job Scams

(Note: We split some of the paragraphs to make this article
easier to read. However, we have not changed the content at all.)

When unemployment soars, as it has in the past several months,
employment scams follow. Scammers prey on the desperate, and
few are more desperate than those searching for jobs in a deep

Most employment scams are too unsophisticated to fool savvy
job hunters. They make claims such as “earn $200 a day
stuffing envelopes at home” or “make big money processing
corporate emails.”

Lately these transparent ploys have been joined by cunning job
scams that can snare even the most skeptical job seekers.
Among the trickiest…

Stimulus Plan Scam

A scamster’s official-looking email, letter or phony
government website informs you that because you recently lost
a job in a particular sector, you qualify for a grant from the
federal economic stimulus plan.

You may be lured to the phony website by a suggestion on a
job search site or in a pop-up ad. The message says that this
money is intended for retraining in a different sector… or
it is part of the government’s bailout of the sector that you
worked in. You are told that you must fill out a form to
obtain your stimulus money.

This form asks for your Social Security number and perhaps
your bank account information so the stimulus funds can be
directly deposited.

No bailout program provides added benefits for those in
particular professions.

The notification really is from a scammer. This scammer might
have learned that you lost your job from a resume that you
posted on a career website… or a resume that you mailed to
a potential employer that fell into the wrong hands.

If you fill out the phony stimulus application, you will
become a victim of identity theft. If you provide an account
routing number, your bank account may be emptied.

Payment-Processing Scam

You are offered a job as US payment-processing rep for a
foreign firm, after the phony company representative finds
your resume on an Internet job site and interviews you over
the phone.

This fake company’s American customers will send their
payments to you, you are told. These might be items purchased
off eBay or the company’s own website.

Your job is to forward the money to your employer overseas,
keeping a small percentage for yourself as compensation. The
payments might be deposits in a PayPal account (a free, secure
way to make online payments), wire transfers or checks, and
you are told to forward the money through a wire transfer
service, such as Western Union.

The fake employer might explain that hiring an American
payment-processing representative has legal or tax
advantages… or that sending money to a domestic address is
more convenient for the firm’s customers.

The job goes smoothly for weeks or months — until the police
show up at your door because your fake employer’s customers
have never received their orders.

By using you to forward payments, the thief was able to supply
a domestic address for payments, which increases buyers’ trust.

You could be sued or even prosecuted. Prosecution is unlikely,
assuming the police believe that you were an innocent pawn in
the deception, but a civil lawsuit against you requires only
that you failed to use “reasonable care.”

Government Job Scam

An official looking email, website or letter explains that
state or federal government jobs are available in your region.
A phone number is provided for those who wish to hear updated
job listings. (Or the jobs are listed in the original message,
but you must call a phone number to request an application.)

The message drones on endlessly when you call — no surprise,
considering that you are dealing with the government. When you
receive your next phone bill, you find that you have been
billed an astoundingly high rate for this call — perhaps $5
per minute.

If the phone number was in area code 809, 876 or 284, you
unknowingly called the Caribbean. Scammers in some Caribbean
countries impose high fees on incoming calls, much as
companies in the US can charge high fees for calls to 900

There are many legitimate phone numbers and employers in the
Caribbean, but there’s no legitimate reason that you would be
asked to call the Caribbean to find out about a US government job.

Background Check Scam

You recently were interviewed over the phone for what you
thought was a job with a well-known company located in a
far-off region of the US or overseas.

The fake company might have posted a help-wanted ad on a job
website, or it might have contacted you when it found your
resume on such a site.

Now things are looking good. You’re told that as long as you
pass a routine background check, you’re in line for an
in-person second-round interview.

The fake company’s HR rep asks for your Social Security
number and permission to access your credit history.
Legitimate employers do request Social Security numbers to
conduct background checks or credit checks — but so do
identity thieves.

Before giving out this information to an apparent employer,
try to confirm that the job opportunity is legitimate. If the
firm is well known, call its switchboard and ask to be
connected to the HR rep to confirm that the person you’ve been
dealing with really works there before handing over any
personal data — ideally before the initial interview.

If the company is unfamiliar, do a Web search for its name and
phone number to find evidence that it really exists… or
evidence that it is a scam.

Travel Cost Scam

A scammer claiming to be from the human resources department
of a well known company located some distance from your
hometown calls to tell you that your resume was found on an
online website (or your resume was passed to the company by a
headhunter) and you should come in for an interview.

The company won’t pay your travel costs for this initial
interview, but you are told that you can get its discounted
corporate airfare if you buy the ticket through the company’s
travel department.

The phony human resources rep makes it sound as if the company
is doing you a favor by allowing you to access this discounted
travel program, in which costs for last-minute travel are well
below what you would have to pay if you bought the ticket
directly from an airline.

You accept this offer, and the phony human resources rep takes
down your credit card number or asks you to wire a payment to
cover your airfare. He says that he will contact you with your
flight information shortly. You never hear back.

When you call the real company’s human resources department,
no one there has ever heard of you — you were talking to an
imposter, not the employer.

Call the real company’s human resources department before
giving out any credit information.

Bottom Line/Retirement interviewed Audri Lanford, PhD,
cofounder and codirector of href="">Internet Scambusters, a website
that has educated more than 11 million people about scams and
cons. Lanford is based in Boone, North Carolina.

Reprinted with the permission of:
Bottom Line/Personal
Boardroom, Inc.
281 Tresser Blvd, 8th Floor
Stamford, CT 06901

That’s it for today. We’ll be back next week with another
issue. See you then!