Job Scams: Just One More THings Screwing With Your Job Search

My name is Crystal Coates am an Human Resource Manager at Complete Technical Solutions. We have a job offer for you.

You are happy to greet you.

Complete Technical Solutions provides enterprise-grade IT support for small and midsize businesses. We help your company get more IT bang for your business buck, tackling network and application issues and resolving user woes all while minimizing outages and driving your IT budget down. Complete Technical Solutions is a well established company providing a wide-ranging(and growing) portfolio of services. Clients approach us with many objectives: to evaluate and improve their existing infrastructure, optimise information flow and reduce the hassle of daily activity, outsource their IT support and take advantage of the Internet-based technologies which are transforming the way we all do business. Bottom line: Complete Technical Solutions makes sure that your IT works for your business and not the other way around.

We got your resume from the website: www.workopolis.com We are looking for responsible and reliable people to expand our personnel. Currently we have an open 3 position of an Online Service Manager.

What does an Online Service Manager has to do?

Online service manager performs tasks in the Internet similar to ones performed by customer service representatives. However, as managers, they also supervise other client service representatives. In general, representatives work to ensure clients’ satisfaction with organization’s products and services. They are often the primar point of contact for a client or customer. Their job assignments include directing and controlling the process and fulfilment of orders, fielding customer inquiries, and resolving customer complaints.

If you are interested in this position and you are ready to become a successful manager with the opportunity for career growth together with Complete Technical Solutions, please reply this mail and we will begin your employment.

If you are not interested, please let us know also, and we will not bother you again.

This gem popped up in my inbox this morning. Now, I have three different email addresses, and I can check all three automatically from my main Gmail account. There’s my social media account, my university account, and my professional sounding Gmail account I use for everything from resumes to bills to online shopping. Yes, I use the professional account on my resumes, and for all my job search related emails.  The only time I ever used any of the other accounts was in University when I had to use my university account for my positions through the university.  Every single resume, job search site, employment seminar, and online class uses my professional address.

This showed up addressed to my university address.

That right there is the first red flag. In fact, this is a HUGE red flag! If this red flag got any bigger, it could blanket this entire county. If you have multiple email accounts, and you get any sort of job search related email in an account you never use for job hunting, it’s 99.999% most likely a scam.

It’s a pretty shitty thing, but the number of online scams for job hunters is on the rise. There have always been scammers out there, but their schtick was so old it’s was easy to identify. Back before I had my own personal computer, I remember looking at the old “stuff envelopes from home” thing, where you paid a “low low one-time fee” of something like $69.95 to get a list of work from home jobs. From there, you could contact each of these jobs, most of whom made you pay a “low low one-time fee” of anything from $10 to $500 for materials and training. They claimed you would be reimbursed once you proved you were willing to work for them. They only collected money because there were too many people out there who would send away for the materials and then do nothing with them. They were losing millions, they claimed, and needed to protect themselves from us work-from-home scammers.

Boo-freakin-hoo.

These scams have always been around because people who need money to survive sometimes become a bit desperate. They tell people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to work or make a living that they can work from their home. Working mothers, the elderly, disabled, and people with other issues or responsibilities that keep them in their home were told that they would be able to earn a decent living. Students were told they could work around their schedules to earn money. All they had to do was pay a little bit up front and they could earn all they needed.

Of course, it was all lies. I knew someone way back in the day, before I was so ridiculously old, who fell for one of those ‘stuff envelopes from home’ scams. He got an envelope in the mail, with flyers and lists for all these work from home jobs.  He shelled out $19.95 for a list of work from home jobs, to start with. The list had all sorts of jobs listed: assembling jewelry, assembling small toys, stuffing envelopes, telemarketing from home, things like that. He then had to pay $79.95 as a “material fee” for a box of envelopes and boxes of flyers. The information he got from the company said that he could make “up to $45 an envelope”.  They claimed he could afford to quit his job and stuff envelopes professionally in a few months.

How?

Well it turns out he would get a base fee of $25 for every 200 envelopes he stuffed. That means he would have to stuff 16,000 envelopes a month to make $2,000 before taxes. $24,000 a year before taxes, for stuffing roughly 550 envelopes a day. BUT he could earn more. If someone received his envelope, was interested in the information in the envelope, and ‘responded in a positive manner’, he would receive a $45 commission as a ‘finders fee’.

So what was in the envelopes?

They were the envelope he got in the mail. The one he read, and then sent away for more info for the initial $19.95. It turns out, every time someone sent away for the list of work from home jobs, and then signed up for one of those jobs and sent them a “material fee”, he would get his $45.  The thing is, we were all constantly getting those letters. I would get 6 or 7 a month.  All of my friends did. Out of dozens and dozens of us who knew this guy, he was the only one who sent away for anything. The chances of him getting people to not only send away for the list but then send away for materials was slim to none. He would have to work roughly 12 hours a day, to live below the poverty line. Their whole “you can quit your job” line was based on you getting 50% of the people you send envelopes to every month to send in that money. The real rate of return on that was actually less than 1%, we later found out.

This scam is still out there today, but online. And with the ever changing nature of the internet, scams are evolving too. Some of them are a little too slick, a little too convincing. Some of them are a little too hard to detect at first. You’re not getting the standard “send us money, we’ll send you stuff to make money with” bullshit from the past.

So how do you avoid becoming a victim of these scams? And how do you identify them?

Do they offer you way too much money for simple tasks? 

The job offer from above emailed me again, with more “details” from the job.

Emрlоymеnt: Full/Pаrt timе:

1.Sаlаry: $1340/$670 per week
2.Wоrкing hоurs: 40/20 hоurs wеекly
3.Working hours (full time position): 9 AM – 5 PM.
4.Payment will be sent to your bank account weekly directly via Interac e-transfer. Payable at regular every Friday at 6 pm.

If you choose position of Part Time, you need to work at least 4 hours a day, it is advisable to start the morning.

So working 20 hours a week earns you $670 to “keep in touch with customers and clients”. They claim you would be answering emails and online chat requests, and you’d be working directly from a script. So they’re willing to pay you $33.50 AN HOUR to answer a few emails. Doesn’t that seem just a little bit ridiculously high?

Usually, if you’re going to make a ridiculously high wage like that, you’ve either worked your way up in the company to a very high position, or your daddy is the CEO and just handed you the job to keep the business in the family. No one is going to send out random emails to prospective employees and offer them that kind of wage. No one out there offers this as a starting wage for customer service. No one.

So you received an email with a job offer. What email address did it come from?

Companies pay good money for their domain names. Big companies aren’t going to have email addresses from Yahoo or Hotmail. The emails with come from addresses like FirstnameLastname@company.com. If Amazon were to email you a job offer, for example, the offer would come from someone directly at Amazon. You would be able to Google them, and get their contact information through their website. If Jane Doe is the head of the HR department, you would get an email address from JaneDoe@amazon.com or something like that. You would be able to Google “Jane Doe Amazon HR Department” and come up with information and contact information about her.

You would NEVER get an email from JaneDoe_AmazonEmployment@gmail.com or AmazonEmploymentRelations@yahoo.com. If a company has a website (which pretty much every company existing today does), then it has a professional email address. They’re not going to give everyone a professional email address except the person in charge of hiring new employees.

They’re also not going to have ridiculously long email addresses that seem to have been randomly thrown together. JaneDoeHRdeptcdhm@yahoo.cdhm.gime.uk emailing to offer you a job with a local company is about 200% fake. If an email address looks like it was thrown together randomly from a box of alphabet soup, it’s bullshit.

And don’t be fooled by how professional an email looks. Templates can be copied, logos can be stolen or faked. Just because someone knows what the Amazon logo looks like, or knows how to make an email look super pretty, doesn’t mean they are offering you something real.

What does their website look like?

Ok, I honestly think that “how to spot a fake website” should be a mandatory course, not just taught to students but taught to EVERYONE!!!! I swear, if I have to see one more post on Facebook saying that McDonald’s/WalMart/Tim Horton’s is giving away free $1,000 gift cards to anyone who signs up on their linked website, I’m going scream. Every single one of those websites fails the very first thing you should be checking for a website: their web address looks totally and completely bogus.

If Burger King is emailing you a link, that link should be http://www.burgerking.com/whateverelsefollowsthat. The important part is that little space between “www.” and “.com”. If it’s Burger King sending that email, it’s Burger King you should expect to see in that link. If their web address has anything like “www.wxyz.burger.hamburger.king.zyxw.com”, then run screaming into the night. Run hard, run fast, run far away.

But what if the web address looks legit?

Well, what does the website look like?

A real business website will have certain information on it: email, phone number, business address, prices for services, etc. If something is a scam, then it’s going to be missing a lot of these things. Let’s take the company that emailed me earlier today. In their follow-up email, they gave me their website to take a look at. Go ahead and take a look through the website. The home page has almost no information on it, other than a phone number. There’s no info about their staff, their CEO, the extent of their services. They don’t even have a mission statement or a picture of the big boss.

If a company doesn’t have a picture of at least one of the big bosses (CEO, CFO, founder, site manager, etc) you know there’s something up. These guys LOVE having everyone know that they are responsible for the company’s success. Hell, the website above doesn’t name a single employee!

Can you go through the website and tell me what services the company provides? Not just a basic list of the services. Can you look at the website and tell me details about the services? How much they cost? What exactly they include?Scams don’t go so far as to cover this on their sites. They want to throw together as professional looking a website as they can in a very short period of time.

I’ve never heard of this company before.

Google. Google is your friend. Google will help you find out things you need about a company.

So if you type the company name into Google, what comes up? If you Google a company, you should come up with a whole shit-tonne of information. Just for fun, I Googled the company I worked at before I went to university. It’s a small business, one location, that services and distributes equipment for a few big photocopier and postage meter businesses.  And you know what? There are dozens of results that pop up when I search them. There’s their website, job ads, customer reviews, former employee reviews, and all sorts of random bits of information about the company.

Now, do you know what came up when I Googled the company that sent me that email? Absolutely nothing. Their website didn’t come up, no reviews came up, nothing.  The only time I got results was when I Googled their name plus the word “scam” attached to it.

Did they outright offer you a job in their email?

No phone call. No interview. No back-and-forth emails. There was no cat and mouse to it. Just opened your email and *BAM* there’s a job offer.

Ya, that’s a scam. They don’t know anything about you. They don’t know if you’re qualified for their position. Hell, to be honest, there probably isn’t even a position!

Did they ask you for any details to get payroll moving, or to do a background check?

NEVER give out your social insurance/security number out to random people online. NEVER!!! The same thing goes for banking info, credit card details, or anything else that could be used to “look into” your identity.  This ain’t rocket surgery. If someone came to your door and said, “Hi, can I have your social insurance number? I want to do a background check on you”, would you give it to them? The Same logic applies online.

Wait, did you even apply for this job?

I’ve lost track of the number of jobs I’ve been offered that I haven’t applied for. Most of them say that they found my resume on Workopolis or Monster.ca. The thing is, I don’t have resumes posted on either of those sites. So how did they find me?

I had a local company message me once saying that I was “ideal” for a position with their company. They started telling me about the position, and it was nothing at all what I was looking for. It was strictly commissioned sales in insurance, which would mean no guarantee of a paycheck. It was also mainly based out in the country, well beyond any bus routes. I don’t have a car and take the bus everywhere. I searched online for the company and found out that the “recruiter” jobs are the most lucrative. Basically, they hire people to send out mass messages to “prospective employees”, and they get a commission for every employee they sign up. Then they get a commission for every sale that employee makes. It’s the very definition of “pyramid scheme”.

If you didn’t actually apply for that job, or they say they found your resume through a means you don’t even use (online postings, temp agencies you don’t use, an unnamed “friend” who supposedly passed your info along), then ignore it.

Do they want you to move money around for them?

This one is classic. They give you a check for $1,000. They tell you to deposit the check into your bank account. $250 is yours to keep. You then have to send the other $750 to their business contact. The only reason you’re sending it and not them, they claim, is something like “tax purposes” or some other financial reason. What came to be known as the “Nigerian Prince” scheme was basically the same thing: he gives you a check he can’t cash for “political reasons”, you cash it and keep 10%, and send the rest to his sister/mother/wife to help him escape his country.

Don’t bother. That check is going to bounce, and you’ll be on the hook for whatever money you sent their contact. They’ll disappear, you won’t be able to contact them, and you’ll never get your money back. Oh, and the money they told you to keep will be gone too since the check bounced.

Ok, but what if they just want you to buy something to do the job with?

I’ve had to pay for stuff to do my job before. I bought a special uniform shirt at my current job that I’m allowed to wear on Fridays. I’ve had to pay for uniforms at my old fast food jobs. But that special Friday shirt wasn’t mandatory. And my uniforms came out of my paychecks.

A real job will never tell you “you’re hired, just send us $189.99 for software to get you started”. If they really wanted you to start working, they would just give you the software to start with, and take it out of your pay somehow. They would make sure you had what you needed, were comfortable using it, and were able to do your job well enough to receive regular paychecks. If they want you to pay up-front for whatever reason, they’re just looking to take your money. You’re not getting it back. You’re not going to get paid. Run.

Does the email actually make any sense?

I know we can’t all write with perfect grammar and spelling all the time. But professional emails should be like 99% perfect. MOst of the scam emails I’ve gotten over the years sound like they were written by a 9-year-old who just discovered the Thesaurus feature in Word. Sometimes it’s really big words when a smaller one would be better and make no sense. Other times it’s a ridiculous amount of misspelled words. Most often, it’s sentence structure that makes little to no sense. Like, it just seems wrong and off.

You should check your email constantly throughout the day and quickly response to my messages,
because I’m your manager and I have a few people in this position and I communicate via e-mail only.
I am your mentor, I am interested in your success as well as you when you go through the trial period.
So i need you to connect your phone to Internet connection to receive my messages without delays.

This is exactly what that company from before sent me about my “duties” in the position”. Like, exactly. Spacing, wording, everything. See the weird sentence structure, the odd times to start a new line, and strange wording? Huge red flag!

This shit just makes no sense at all. What the hell would I be doing?

This is the one I have the most fun with. You see, I like to email these people back and string them along like I’m actually going to fall for their scam. I think I get that from my dad. He’s the only man I know who has multiple checks from different “Nigerian Prince” scams in a file at home because he was bored and answered their emails. I emailed that company back, asked what the job entails. Then I emailed again, asking what the job entails. They’ve gone so far as to send me a ridiculously vague Labour Agreement for me to sign and email back to them. They haven’t told me what the damn job is yet though.

All they’ve said is I would be in constant contact with the manager and would have to constantly check my email. That’s it. They’ll pay me $33.50 an hour to check my email and “perform tasks”. They haven’t said what those tasks are at all. I mean, tasks is a pretty broad term. Would I be transcribing record? Raising goats? Arranging travel for foreign dignitaries? Sending out my own scam emails claiming to be a manager for some reason? No clue! They haven’t said a damn thing!

REAL job offer would tell you what the job entails. They want to make sure you’re the right fit for the job before you start. I mean, if they’re going to pay you to work, they want to make sure you can fucking work, right? No company would go through the trouble of performing a mass job search, hiring a candidate, training them, and paying them just to find out they can’t actually perform their job and they need to be fired.

 

Well Sunshine, that’s the basics there. In the end, you really need to trust your gut. Does the offer seem too good to be true? Does it seem off to you? Does it give you that weird feeling in the pit of your stomach that you get when you’re walking home alone at night and hear footsteps behind you somewhere? Don’t fall for it then.

Hope your day is bright and shiny!

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